Our second month of Ecuador

Wow, it feels like a whole new trip.  My sister Alisa has gone now, and Bill left for the coast.  We did our first volunteering gig in the jungle and came back to a now familiar Mariscal district of Quito. 

From our last post we had just returned to Quito from Banos. I mentioned in the last post how Bill and I had gone to see the volcano ´breathe´ spitting up lava and rumbline.  Well three days after we left, it erupted.  Covered a town in ash, messed up the crops and the livestock. We came back to Quito for another week of Spanish school and salsa lessons.  Alisa was feeling particularly studious and took Spanish classes all weekend while Tim, Bill and I ducked out of town to a little cloudforest town called Mindo.  Cute place, but wow, they learned how to suck the money out of tourists.  Everything cost something there, even if it wasn´t much, it was a dollar or three to take a few steps or look at some flowers.  It was gorgeous though.  Lower and warmer than Quito, it´s claim to fame was as a birder´s mecca, and it´s proximity to a butterfly laden valley of five different cascades.  The cascades were a beautiful day hike away, very swimmable, and butterflies were almost hard to avoid stepping on.  Gorgeous butterflies; all yellow, all orange, yellow-orange-pink spots, black with spots, spots that were sometimes purple and sometimes brown.  A butterfly landed on my forehead and hung out for several minutes. 

It was in our attempt to take a picture of the butterfly perched on my forehead that we discovered our camera is now well and truly broken.  Something rattles when we shake it, and our cursory attempt at fixing it went nowhere. So, we´ll have a decided lack of pictures until we figure something out.

Alisa´s last night in Ecuador happily coincided with her birthday, her flight left at 7am, naturally we didn´t sleep.  The night took us from wine and tapas to salsa to darts and beer to more salsa to the weirdest casino club I´ve been to (not that I´m well versed on casino clubs but still) straight to the plane.  I was wrecked for two days after. 

We left to monkey around in the cloudforest shortly after.  It was great, a reserve called Los Cedros with great whole grain vegetarian food, water straight from a stream, and miles of hiking trails.  We spent the week hiking every day, trying to sneak up on monkeys and count them.  Monkeys are hard to sneak up on, the leaves are dry and the trail is straight up the side of the mountain.  It rained one day, and that was cool by itself, just walking quietly through that forest that´s thick with ferns, orchids, bromiliads, and birds.  Oddly, I thought, the forest floor wasn´t nearly as wet as I would have thought.  Not that it was dry by any stretch, quite moist seems accurate, but while it was raining I didn´t really need to cover my head.  We were volunteering for several English master´s students gather data for their thesises, really nice folks, one of whom could do a hilarious imitation of Stephen Hawkings.  Upon our return, Tim dove immediately into the ice-cream sandwiches, and Shwarma, I made a run for the Chochos (a fava-like bean, toasted corn, tomato salad snack).

We´re off again for another volunteer position come the 7th of August, so we´ll be out of touch for the next six weeks...  

Since we don´t have a camera anymore, I´ll try to link to sites of places we´ve been that have pictures...

Article on the volcano eruption

Los Cedros