Friday, March 27, 2015

Walking the Mud Trails of Mindo

When you are in the cloud forest, you expect it to rain. This was not a disappointment, as it rained quite a bit, but with the river roaring behind the cabin, it was difficult to distinguish the rain from the river. It was not until we tried navigating the muddy streets that we felt the magnitudinal effects of the weather.

It was difficult to drag us away from the bird feeders. There was one on each deck with the lower deck having a much larger one. They would go through two liters of sugar water two times a day. They could have done with more, but we only refilled it this often. Olaf had to restock our sugar water supply with a six-liter bottle. There is such entertainment going on.

It is difficult to tell from the photos, but the darker hummingbirds, are iridescent green and blue on their chests. The tail feathers are an orangey rust color, but you can only see it when they flutter.  What really cracked me up was when one of him or her would outstretch one
wing to knock another bird off the feeder. There are an estimated 400 varieties of birds in the Mindo area.

There is a tourism office in Mindo, but it does not open until 2pm. Go figure! We trudged around the town for a couple of hours, trying to discover what there was to do that our aging bodies would allow. There is not much, though Ron has fantasies of doing dozens of things until reality kicks in or a muscle protests.

Centered in the city is a small park, it is pleasant, but looks
like the gardeners went on strike a few months earlier. Birds adorn the benches. A statue of what appears to be a gringo backpacker sits on one edge of the park, sans explanation.
We tried doing a little grocery shopping for meals. What is it with butter in this country? Once again, we had a difficult time finding real butter. In Quito, we went to two large supermarkets looking for butter, but only found margarine. When I ask for mantequilla, they bring me to the margarine, which sits on regular shelves, not even in the refrigerator sections.

Here in Mindo, it was the same story, different town. Finally, I said to one shop owner who tried passing off margarine as a substitute “Quiero mantequilla de una vaca. I want butter from a cow.” A look of surprise came over her face, but then she directed me to the one shop that had such a rare commodity.

Well, I did learn something new today. Geese can have blue eyes. Two of these critters were wandering around the muddy street. They tried to attack my shoes, but I held my ground. This
perplexed them; they did not know how to react, but I they did allow a portrait shot.

We stopped at a small restaurant for an almuerzo at the cost of $2.50 each. The young, beautiful waitress never smiled until I gave her a tip. Then her face exploded showing her pearly whites. 

But while we were eating, a beige non-descript hound like dog appeared at the door. He never once set foot inside the restaurant, but stared at us without interruption through the entire meal. He had me, so I saved him a handful of rice and a good chunk of my sliced chicken. The rice I set on the sidewalk away from the entrance. He ate every kernel in spite of not looking underfed. When we left, I broke the chicken into small bites to feed to him as we walked. Even after the food was gone, he followed us for an hour. Every now and then, he would knock into my leg. The first time it happened, it made me think I was being harassed by a person.

Every city in Ecuador where we have been, there are literally thousands of stray dogs. Reason would dictate that eventually, they would form packs that could be dangerous, but this does not seem to happen. They all fend for themselves and even when they travel together, they are more than willing to be offered any type of affection. The majority are so loveable looking, it is heartbreaking to see the life they have to lead.

In Cuenca, the rescues are trying to get laws to change the situation, but even there puppies are for sale in pet shops and even open air markets. They are adorable when they are puppies, but then get abandoned when they are adults. In Quito, we witnessed dozens of people carrying their puppies around with them like babies. In contrast, we did not see many if any people carrying or even walking their dogs in public.

Ron investigated the Yellow House, the legendary place
where you hand over $6 for the luxury of hiking on their property to bird watch. He went off on his own; $12 seemed to get stuck in my craw. The trail leads for four miles. He claims to have quit after one, but still had not seen any birds.

Tomorrow, we will do the chocolate tour to fill an hour. Quite honestly, I do not have to do a thing other than watch the hummingbirds and the yellow-breasted birds feed on the feeder while listening to the river. Perfect relaxation!

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