We spent the weekend in Mindo, which is about a two hour bus ride northwest.
The trip began very early! It was Kim (the German girl) and Andrew (the grad student from DC) and of course, me! We met at school and got a taxi to the bus station at about 6:20am. We arrived at Ofelia bus station around 7am and got the last three tickets for the 8am bus to Mindo! We got on the crowded bus and traveled two hours into the jungle (Cloud forest) to Mindo.
We arrived in Mindo around 10am and had to find our hostel. We wandered around and searched for it for a few minutes until finally asking (I was the most fluent Spanish speaker in the group, so I had to do the bartering and asking). Mindo is a really small town, so we were just a street away from our hostel called Casa de Cecilia. We checked into our room and then went to walk around town for a bit and grab a bite to eat.
After exploring the city for a bit, we went to a chocolate factory in the city! Yes, that's right! A chocolate factory that grows and makes all their chocolate right there in the city!
We saw where cacao beans came from and the tree they grew on! They also grow diablo peppers (2nd hottest peppers in the world) at the factory! They grow these because they make chili chocolates and chocolate chili sauces! Be careful! Don't touch your eyes! We then were able to see the fermentation process of the cacao beans as well as the drying process! They even are trying to grow their own sugar. We also saw the machines they roast the beans in and the machine they roast their fresh grown coffee in! After chocolate tasting, we went back to the Hostel and explored some of the space there!
A few hours later, we decided to check out the butterfly garden in town. We learned about butterfly eggs and even got to hold these big caterpillars! We then went into a huge tent with all the exotic butterflies! The butterflies liked me so much, they even began to land on me! After the butterflies, there was another area with hummingbirds! There were about 30 hummingbirds and they were all so beautiful! I tried to catch some good pictures, but they fly so quickly! This area also had comfy hammocks to relax in!
After that, we met a new friend from our hostel! His name is Rafael and he is from California! We all ate Quinoa burgers and Quinoa Ice Cream! My favorite foods so far in Ecuador!
We ended a beautiful night in Mindo with a game of scrabble! It was a lovely way to end a tiring, adventure filled day!