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My experience living and working in the Cloud Forest of Mindo, Ecuador.
Volunteering in Mindo, Ecuador
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 locals coexists peacefully with the natural world.
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.
Living and Working at Las Terrazas De Dana (Dana Lodge)
My accommodation in Mindo was Las Terrazas De Dana.
This gorgeous lodge is 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.
We chatted about 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.
They were my faithful companions who followed me every time I went for a walk and always appeared outside my door in the mornings.
Exploring Nature in Mindo
I spent a lot of quality time with nature during my stay in Mindo, since there weren’t any other people my age at the lodge for me to hang out with.
Every morning I awoke to the sunshine streaming through my window and the forest birds singing.
I took long walks along dusty, dirt paths.
I loved admiring all the exotic plants and flowers, mingling with cows and horses, and sitting by the rushing, clear waters of the rivers.
Most of my downtime was spent reading, writing, walking, and just chilling in nature.
I’ve never been so content doing absolutely nothing.
The Writing Work
When I wasn’t busy doing nothing, I was writing articles for the Las Terrazas De Dana blog.
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.
Activities in Mindo
Mariposario de Mindo
This butterfly sanctuary is only a 3km walk from the town center and it costs $6.
This really is a great opportunity to observe butterflies up close.
Many of them will rest without moving for some time on surrounding flowers.
If you put banana on your hand, the butterflies will sit 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.
Las Cascadas (Waterfalls)
On one adventurous day, I hiked through the dense forest and visited six different waterfalls.
First, I took a tarabita (cable car) over the vast hills and admired the panoramic views.
I spent the next few hours walking along scenic woodland trails and swimming in waterfalls.
There were barely any other tourists 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.
I arrived back home feeling exhausted, sweaty, and accomplished.
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. 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.
This thick beverage is made with 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 a classic drink during the Day of the Dead celebrations in November in Ecuador.
In the fruit department, I also tried white pineapple, which is the same as yellow pineapple but a bit sweeter.
I also tried gigantic papayas and these tiny bananas that grow on flowers and have bright pink peels.
Yuca, a starchy, potato-like food, was another common food to eat.
Ecuador is also a major chocolate producer.
So the town has two authentic chocolate shops with absolutely delicious products like brownies, hot chocolate, and chocolate bars.
I am thrilled to soon move on to the next stops in my South American adventure.
But I will definitely miss the friendly vibes, the hot sunny weather, and the soothing, nature-rich atmosphere of Mindo.
If you’re thinking of traveling to Ecuador, visit iVisa.com to see if you need a visa!
To read about more of my travels in Ecuador, check out these articles: