We left the tapestry lined streets of Otavalo (vowing to return one day) and headed by bus to the Capital. By now we were getting pretty good at this whole bus thing and had already decided that so far Ecuador was far better and cheaper then Colombia. With Bus travel in Ecuador the general rule for cost is $1 for every hour that you travel. Coming from a city infamous for it’s overpriced public transport (Brisbane) this rule was music to our ears. After an estimated 2 hour trip that of course turned into 5 and 1/2 we arrived in Quito early one evening and descended 3 flights of stairs to our hostel room in the Old Town. Noticing that we were finding breathing a tad harder then usual, the 2’800m above sea level altitude had made itself known straight away. Ignoring the Lonely Planet ‘dealing with altitude’ tips to avoid drinking and rest upon arrival we bought a bottle of Rum and headed out to the bar/gringo district of Plaza Foch to toast our final night with our new amiga and travel confidant for the last 3 weeks – Queen Zohra. It isn’t often that you meet someone on the otherside of the world and feel as if you have known them for many years and Zohra’s friendship (and spanish) will be greatly missed by us both. The following day we bid farewell to our friend and spent the next couple of days recovering from colds , the result of a two day bus trip and a little bit of altitude sickness and managed to do a little exploring. Really testing our lungs with a walk through the hilly Old Town up to the towering La Basilica.
Not being a fan of large cities we agreed that 3 days in Quito was more than enough and boarded a bus to the small town of Mindo only two hours away. Mindo was beautiful and completely exceeded my expectations. Set in the Andean foothills amongst a stunning cloud forest this quaint village of only 3000 people attracts birdwatchers from around the world. After only 5 minutes in the town it wasn’t hard to know why as we were surrounded by various species of hummingbirds. We spent 3 days relaxing in our forest cabin, visiting a cacao farm and factory (heaven), walking to cascades, riding in cable cars and zip lining over the jungle canopy. We were surrounded by butterflies, hummingbirds and even had our first Tucan spotting! Mindo was the perfect place to unwind and chill before we began our volunteering stint.