After two weeks of getting whisked along in the busy lifestyle of Quito, two weeks in Mindo was exactly what I needed.
This area is like an oasis of peace and tranquility just waiting to bestow its charm upon anyone in need.
I’ve never been to a place so unbelievably saturated with rich green wildlife, where the natural world dominates over humanity and the people humbly succumb to the beauty and raw power of nature.
All roads are unpaved, all animals roam free and happy, all fruits and vegetables are fresh and cheap, and all views are framed by the endless rolling hills of lush forests.
My accommodation for this portion of the trip was Las Terrazas De Dana, a gorgeous lodge enveloped in greenery and filled with lovely people. The host and workers here were extremely welcoming, friendly, and willing to talk to me about anything including cooking, the upcoming USA election, cultural differences, and life in Ecuador. They also helped me so much with my Spanish. Three friendly dogs also lived in the lodge, and acted as my faithful companions who followed me every time I went for a walk and always appeared outside my door in the mornings.
I spent a lot of quality time with nature during my stay in Mindo, which was cleansing for my soul and body. Every morning I awoke to the sunshine streaming through my window and the forest birds singing sweetly. I took long walks along dirt paths, admired the diverse array of exotic plants and flowers, mingled with cows and horses, and spent hours sitting by the rushing, clear waters of the rivers either writing, reading, or simply absorbing the crisp sounds, smells, and sights of the wildlife around me. I’ve never been so content doing absolutely nothing.
When I wasn’t busy doing nothing, I was writing articles for the Las Terrazas De Dana blog, which was wonderful. There is nothing better than getting free accommodation and food in exchange for a task that you enjoy doing for fun anyways!
When I wasn’t busy doing nothing or writing articles, I was taking advantage of all the attractions that Mindo has to offer.
This butterfly sanctuary is only a 3km walk from the town center, and is definitely an interesting experience. For $6 (which is a bit high in my opinion) you can enter a huge greenhouse decorated with trees, flowers, small ponds, picnic benches, and artwork; and of course, every surface is covered in butterflies. This really is a great opportunity to observe butterflies up close, as many of them will rest without moving for some time on surrounding flowers, or even on your hand. The details and colors of their wings were incredibly beautiful, though it was a bit overwhelming to have so many butterflies darting across your line of vision and fluttering near your ears. But it was amazing nonetheless.
One adventurous day consisted of hiking through the dense forest and visiting six different waterfalls. After taking a cable car over the vast hills and admiring the breathtaking, panoramic views, I spent the next few hours walking along scenic woodland trails and resting in the powerful presence of the cascades of clear water. I was surprised at how little tourists there were on the route, which only made my journey more peaceful and enjoyable.
Rather than taking the cable car back to the road, I embarked on my own ambitious hike through the forest, which left me feeling exhausted, sweaty, and accomplished by the end.
Eating Food (obviously)
I’ve also been lucky enough to sample wonderful, traditional Ecuadorian food and drink while staying at Las Terrazas De Dana. The women who work here are so friendly, generous, and kind, and their cooking opened my eyes to a few new dishes that I’ve fallen in love with.
One of my new favorite drinks is called Colada Morada, a thick beverage made using lots of berries, herbs, and jungle-leaf infused water. Served either warm or cold, this drink has no added sugar but is bursting with flavor due to long list of natural ingredients. It is simply amazing, and perfect for fruit lovers like myself. In the fruit department, I also tried white pineapple, which is the same as yellow pineapple but a bit sweeter, gigantic papayas, and these tiny bananas that grow on flowers and have bright pink peels.
One night’s delicious dinner consisted of yucca, a starchy, potato-like food, and lentils. Ecuador is also a major chocolate producer, so the town naturally has two authentic chocolate shops with absolutely delicious products like brownies, hot chocolate, and simple chocolate bars with different natural flavors and with no artificial ingredients.
So while I am thrilled to soon move on to the next stops in my South American adventure, I will definitely miss the friendly vibes, the hot sunny weather, and the soothing, nature-rich atmosphere of Mindo.