Top of the Mountain & Tropical Mindo

¡Hola a todos! Classes have begun and I’m looking forward to learning a whole new wealth of information about my host country! However, to celebrate the end of our first week of classes, I decided to take a few trips to different places around Ecuador.

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First of all, I took advantage of Friday by joining three of my new friends to the top of Mt. Pichincha here in Quito. I can see the mountain every morning from my bedroom window, so I really wanted to explore the top of the mountain. It would have been a long time to hike up there, so we took the cable car (TelefériQo). I didn’t imagine that it would be so scary going up to the top, but I realized that the cable car was going to be like an amusement park ride; I don’t enjoy amusement parks.

But once I got to the top… the view was amazing! It was such a different environment than the city (which I could see clearly from the top of Pichincha). My friends and I hiked around and stood in silence for a while. SILENCE! There is no such thing in Quito since it’s such a busy city. It felt wonderful being away for a while and enjoying nature.

Roaming and observing the surrounding mountains.

We even observed some wild cows roaming the land. I did not pet the cows because I am also afraid of getting bit by wild animals. Instead, I just observed some of my friends getting licked by the cows and photographed them.

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We noticed that there were horse rides that would take us to the crater of Pichincha which would let us see inside the volcano (!). However, since we didn’t bring enough money for anything other than the taxi rides, cable car, and food, we didn’t ride the horses. ¡Pero eso será para la próxima vez!

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Leaving our mark on the dirt path on Pichincha.

As if I didn’t already experience enough adventure, the next two days I went to the cloudy forest in Mindo. I stayed in my first hostel and ended up traveling with a large group of IES students from Quito and Cumbayá.

I think the bus ride took about 3 hours, and we dropped more than 1,000 meters in altitude. That means warmer weather and lots of bugs! We were all supposed to go tubing down one of the rapids as soon as we got there, but right before I got on I got very sick and had to sit out. 🙁 I think it was the bus and taxi rides with all of the curvy and bumpy roads.

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The view from our hostel’s second floor.

Thankfully, I felt much better after eating lunch! A small group of us decided to hike around the rapids before we took a chocolate tour near our hostel. The tour lasted about an hour and a half, and we were able to see how chocolate is grown and made in Mindo. Plus, we got to sample a lot of cacao beans, stevia leaves, and dark chocolate! Fun fact: the only other place they produce Mindo chocolate outside of Mindo is in Dexter, Michigan; what a small world!

The next day was packed with adventure as we took a cable car (even scarier than the TelefériQo) across the cloud-forest to a trail that led us to different waterfalls. The arduous hike became somewhat dangerous after it rained and the trails became slippery with mud. The rain also made it a little colder, but I felt like I was in a rainforest! I walked around with wet feet for a majority of the hike.

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When we returned to the small town after the hike, I ate my lunch quickly and hopped onto the bus to return to Quito before dark. ¡Fué una aventura maravillosa! I hope to return to Mindo to explore more of the town and to go tubing. So until my next adventure, ¡cuídense mucho mis amigos! ¡Nos vemos!

 

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Brenda Mora

From Holland, MI. Mexican-American studying abroad in a Latin American country. Speaks Spanish/English fluently. Likes nature walks and laughing.

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