Part V - Ecuador -- Cayambe Street Fiesta, Climbing Cotopaxi (sort of) and Relaxing in Mindo


Ever wondered what is feels like to be tasted by a butterfly?

Well, I bet you are now! Actually, it tickles... but just ever so slightly! When those mariposas (butterflies) unravelled their curly tongue hesitantly towards my finger... I was surprised to find that they completely passed over the rotting banana juice on my finger (that I was instructed to take from the feeder) and went for my skin instead (they like sweat). In fact, when butterflies feed, their tongue actually looks like that of a mosquito (except for the fact that it is about twice the length!). This enables them to get deep inside those hard to reach, but evidently tasty, flowers. Anyways seeing over two dozen types of butterlies was just a part of my experience in Mindo, Ecuador.

In addition to this adventure, I also paid a tribute to Lindo Mindo, a local Hummingbird Farm. Just picture standing in the middle of an airport of tiny planes and this will give you a feeling of how I felt. The jerky movements of hummingbird made them tough to follow (and take pictures of them) even though they were less than a meter away from me! Also their humming sound was a cross between a miniature airplane and a bee... but you get used to it after a while.

Following the hummingbird tour, I took a walk on one of the farm's forest trail and I was reminded of how wimpy I was when it came to spiders. Sigh. Yes, it was shameful, but to prevent myself from walking into spiderwebs (it almost happened a few times!!), I took a branch and wavered it in front of me while following the trail. So much for the tough trailblazer that I am supposed to be. Still, I haven't lost hope and my ambitions for visiting the rainforest still prevails (even though I have seen pictures of several spiders as big as your hand and crawling on people -- I still get shivers thinking about it)!

Back to Mindo, some of the other things I did included visiting an orchid farm, went inner-tubing down some rapids, and took a full day hike through the dense cloud forests near Mindo to do some bird-watching (we saw toucans and quetzals... but they were too far for pictures).


We took a bus to the town of Cayambe, where the whole town was celebrating the birthday of two local saints... with strange traditional costumes, street parades, dancing, crowd-control horses (they work so much better to push back crowds than security guards), singing and lots of chicha (the local home-brew and tasty fermented-corn alcoholic drink).

The most odd thing about it the fiesta to me was some of the cloth masks that some of the participants wore. From a very western world perspective, it reminded of an executioner's mask except... more colourful and with a stringy nose. It was very strange to see.


Well, as opposed to the numerous ambitious mountain climbers that I meet travelling through Ecuador who take on the challenge of climbing a multitude of mountains and voclanoes here from foot to apex, I set my climbing ambitions slightly lower. In fact I was quite satisfied with climbing up to the refuge from the parking lot. It was only 300 meters up, but at an altitude of 4800, it took nearly an hour!!!

No signs of altitude sickness as I was visiting the park just for the day, but let me tell you, it was chilly. (However, a tour companera had significant pains in her ears as she was making the same trek.) Anyway, you can bet that the hot honey tea was well appreciated when we finally (!) reached the refuge.

We also saw all sorts of interesting plants in the paramo (highland vegation) as well as some wild horses (they didn't look any different compared to regular horse apart for their slightly tangled manes).

See below for pictures of an Ecuadorian First Communion, the Cayambe Fiesta, the Cotopaxi Climb, and Beautiful (Lindo) Mindo (103 pictures):

I just came back from be visiting the beautiful Quilatoa Volcano Crater Lake, the Colonial Pueblo of Latacunga, and the Pujili Food Market on Sunday.

I am looking to go to Cuenca in a few weeks to visit this colonial pueblo, as well as the petrified forest and Ingapirca, the most well-preserved Inca ruins in Ecuador.

Then...The Coast! The Beach! And Surfing! (where it is also popular to drink turtle's bood while it is still hot! eww! What would the turtle activists say?).