At the Spanish school I took classes at, there are typically weekend trips offered outside the city. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go to Mindo, a beautiful town just a few hours away from Quito. I was promised beauty, and Mindo delivered. Even on our way, we took a stop to check out a breathtaking view of the inside of a once active volcano.
Getting Settled In
Once we arrived, we waited a bit for our hostel rooms to be ready, so in the meantime, we went to a chocolate factory to learn how chocolate is made. Unfortunately, there were no Oompa-Loompas or chocolate rivers... However, there was a snake inside the building that we were told was venomous, so that was actually really thrilling.
When our hostel rooms were finally ready before heading off to check out the waterfalls, we checked in. I was extremely stoked to see where my room was located and what it looked like on the inside. It was also really cool that there was no insulation in the room and even many open holes in the wall, showing how temperate Ecuador is.
Our Time in the Jungle
I'm not sure if it's actually a jungle, considering I've also been told it's a cloud forest, but jungle sounds pretty cool. We got to ride in the back of trucks, which everyone was pretty excited about, on our way to a trailhead for a really cool hike, which I was especially excited for.
At the end of the hike, we encountered a waterfall which we had the opportunity to jump into, and I was not about to miss out on that.
My friend Jacob and I had been discussing out mutual love for running, so he and I decided to run roughly 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the trailhead back to our hostel, stopping only to enjoy the serenity, peace, and silence of staring off into the forest. It was beautiful.
Flying Through the Air
I'd done a short zip-line once, back when I feared heights with a fury. This time, however, was extremely exciting. The views from the air were incredible.
Tubing Through White Waters
Our last activity in Mindo as a group was to get in a series of inner-tubes tied together and float, or rather raft, down the river. Unfortunately, many of the photos that were taken were on the camera of my new German friend, Kaschina, whose camera was sadly stolen on a separate trip just two nights ago. You will just have to trust me that the waters where white and the times were good.
Yet again, a good friend has left. Jacob has left to volunteer in another part of Ecuador. We were put into the same orientation group when we arrived and grew closer each day. It's another bittersweet experience of saying goodbye to a good friend, but having the good memories nonetheless. I also said goodbye to my friend from Oregon, Donella, who I hope will be as equally excited to make my blog again as she was her first time. Further, two kids who went on the trip with us to Mindo really grew attached to me and I felt bad to say bye to them as well.
I'll be honest... it is getting hard, particularly to continue losing guy friends, as there are few male volunteers here; but more goodbyes mean more hugs, and if that's not cliché enough for you, it's the memories that matter most. Really, It's exciting how many amazing people there are out there, just waiting to be met.
What to Look Forward to
Today, I got to see the pope in Quito! Between me and my friends, we got video and pictures, so I will try and post those tomorrow.
I've also started my volunteer orientation this week, which I will reflect on Friday when orientation is over.