Friday, 16 March 2012

Watch the birdie

Mindo, a sleepy village in the cloud forest was our next stop. And it certainly lived up to its cloud forest name with all the surrounding mountains covered in clouds in turn giving the village a feeling of being in a bubble and totally cut off from society. We were staying in a cute wooden cabin hostel overlooking a noisy running river which was lovely to go to sleep to and there were humming bird feeders down by the deck so gave us another chance to try and take a photo of the fastest birds in the west well south!! Wandered around town and got drawn into watching a local very competitive volleyball game where money was changing hands. I was keen to join in but held back! Instead we treated ourselves to a classic Ecuadorian meal of Churruso which is steak with two eggs on top mmmm! We're certainly not eating too badly on our travels. Mindo is officially the birding capital of the world so we went on several pretty walks to track down the toucan which is officially our favourite bird. Our first walk didn't end up being the most successful. After walking along a pretty track for a couple of hours, having not spotted much, we sat down to eat our snacks which proved disastrous as i was wearing shorts and i was ravaged by sand flies-gaining 50 bites. Not my finest moment! I'm still suffering. Jonty was spared as he was wearing trousers! But that didn't stop us - the next day we set off at 7am and this time we managed to pick up a guide but not of the human variety. Whilst crossing the town square a cute black dog who had a permanent smile came and said hello. We responded and that was it he led the way for the next two hours all the way up to a waterfall and along the route where all the birds were. When we stopped to look at birds he stopped patiently and waited for us and then marched on when we started up. It was like having our own littlest hobo. The only problem we had was when i ducked under a fence to get a picture of the classic black and yellow toucan and smiler continued to maintain his guide position by running ahead of me but he ended up scaring off the toucans. But, it was pretty cool seeing them in flight. We spotted a few more other toucans and a quetzel and a south american turkey bird with help from official tour guides that we came across with big scopes. The colours and the bird song were very cool. After 2 hours it was time to say goodbye to our canine guide as we had reached the cable car which would take us over to the walk to the waterfall. After speaking to the cable car operator we found out that Smiler regularly escorts tourists up to the waterfall-very kind of him. We got in the 4 person cage to cross a canyon and then walked a couple more hours to a pretty waterfall which surprisingly had a concrete staircase next to it so you could walk up the waterfall!! In the evenings as it was a pretty quiet town we had dinner with some cool people we met and then ended the evening with beer and a few rounds of yachtzee. Oh yes we know how to party!!

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