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Date: 01 Mar 2011 18:19:00
Title: Mindo and home

SATURDAY (Z and zips)
Another high energy day, but starts with a slow morning,  Colin resolutely did not want to come up to Mindo so, as I am super sensitive about his mood,  this just leads to us niggling at one another all morning. 
 
We walk about 5km to a butterfly farm which is great for the kids and our lack of education over the past month has been twitching a bit so a nature lesson, compensates a bit.  Plus the kids get to hand feed butterflies the size of dinner plates.  Colin is still rather annoyed by Mindo feeling it's just another Banos, here to steal the tourist Dollar,  which it duely does over lunch. Grrrrr 
 
We watch folk scare themselves silly over tubing down rapids,  for once we're sensible and are not going to be tempted into killing our children in yet more river rapids. We are, however, hitchhiking our way down the road to embark on 13 (unlucky for some) high, fast zip wires that cover 3.5km of distance.  Z can't wait to get going.  I am again the first to fly and feel distictly sick whizzing over the 360ft drop,  I just think Zinnia is going to arrive in a state of trauma after her maiden run and she is next down.  Only she comes hurtling towards me beaming from ear to ear........  oh my god,  I am flabergasted.  Next down is Cosmo/Colin and the Instructor.  This act of scarey stuff is clearly a flight too far for Cosmo.  But Colin is a born again hieght lover.
 
Before leaving the UK Colin went to see Toby, a wonderful man who promised to fix him of his life-time fear of hieghts. Incredibly the whole process took about 1/2hr and a year later several enjoyable trips up the mast he is opting to go head first down a 400ft 1mile long zip wire.  Let me know if anyone would like Tobys email address he can fix all those silly fobias.  
 
Colin is clearly enjoying this whole experience a little more than me but if a challenge is set I feel it's my duty to accept.  Only I didn't really understand Colin saying, "La senora es el Maripossa" (butterfly)? To our fellow Ecuadorian zippers this really meant something, and to me it just sounded good.  10mins later I have another man between my legs whilst attemping to hang upside down, I'm being told to relax.  It at this moment I am to ressemble a butterfly travels backwards, upside-down over a 300ft or so drop.  There is no way on this bloody planet I can relax in this position, I've just about managed to master relax over a smear test by this is whole other ball game.  So when half way across the 1 mile line the nice man between my legs thinks wiggling me about is maybe going to relax me a little more, never before have so many muscles been working simaltainiously.
   
Zinnia is a complete star, and has hit her all time favourite pursuit or either her near death experience 5 days ago has left her feeling fearless.  Our hitch down on the back of another Toyota truck just seems normal everyday sort of stuff now.
 
We get back to the hostal have a well needed drink of the alcoholic variety and head up the road about 4k to our final activity of the day, ' A Frog Concert',  we haven't a clue what to expect but we have been  assured it is well worth attending. Dispite being late we are the first to arrive, slowly the viewing platform over 2 ponds begins to fill up to an audience of about 20.   Over 1/2 hour the light has been diminishing and the noise coming from the surrounding pond and rainforest is getting to feeever pitch. Colin and I are totally bemused that a bunch of frogs can be so loud.  The kids however are getting to be past it,  we are expecting it to all be over when we are treated to a talk and then a guilded flashlight tour through the forest to see: Frogs, Spiders, snakes and other weird and wonderful creapy crawlies.  This is my idea of a nightmare and I didn't go and see Toby before I left,  added to this I only have flipflops on.  Whilst suppressing the urge to run whilst being shown a smallish version of a tarantula (actually a particularly nasty wolf spider)I distictly feel something wandering over my foot,  which only causes me to kick off my flipflop and leave me bearfoot grappling around the dark forest floor for the illusive flipflop, all this and trying to sound facinatinated and joyful at our findings whilst all the kids want to do is go home, and I really don't blame them.............  We do however see an amazing glow in the dark dead branch, looking more like Gandlophs staff than a object from the real world, fireflys,loads of tiny very loud frogs and a few walking sticks.    
 
 
SUNDAY (bites and buses)
 
We're catching the 11am bus out of Mindo to our last port of call Puerto Queto,  an out of the way off the tourist map village, where we're due to stay on a Fruit Farm on a riverbend or so Lonely planet says but we know all about discriptions, expectations and reality now.   The bus obviously doesn't show up and by 12.30 having consumed half the stock of a Cuban street vendor and been picked to death by the worst bugs I have ever experienced,  I infact now look like a drug addict how has been desperately looking for veins all over my legs and ankles.  A lovely guy takes pitty on us and gives us a lift up the hill to the Main road.  Where we catch a hair raisingly fast bus 2 hrs up the next road.  Colin and I are rather amused by the constant crowing coming from the back of the bus and dispite our first thought that someones Mobile keeps ringing we are then shown the original meaning of 'Chicken in a Basket.' 
 
Finally get into town where transport appears to be limitied,  Eventually hail a 50cc Motorbike toktok, kids over joyed as it's yet another new form of transport.  Poor bloody engine though, not sure it was designed for a family of 4, 3 wks of clothing, and a bundle of souveniors.  Probably could have walked quicker had we known where we were going.
 
Being rather sceptical of the Lonely Planet Guild we now only say we would like to stay 1night and possibly 2.  We also make a mental note of other options if we pass them whilst on our way to said booked abode.  But the entrance to Coco Plantation is gorgeous  a long driveway, flanked with hybiscus and Honey Flowers winding it's way up to a great round house sitting on the bend of a river. 
 
Our host seems rather lovely for the outset and tiptop place as there are 6 children ranging from 11 down.
  
Colin and I are in need of a bit of down time and the hammocks are too tempting by half, so we hang whilst the kids get to know eachother and go gentle tubing down the river, all within earshot of the hammocks, big peace. 
 
Our hosts then take Colin and kids into town to buy provisions,  just the basics, water, food, beer.  Whilst colin buys our basics; bug spray, bug spray and more bug spray. The little biting buggers are up here too.
 
Gabriel turns out to be a bit of a superman.  One of 18 kids, an amazing knowledge on nature,  Good cook, bit of a rambo on the activites front and great conversationalist.  regailing stories of friends and there fertility.  One friend of his has 7 wives and 28 kids they all have there own house on a farm and he rotates between them (Put that in your pipe Tom Reid, you've a bit more catching up to do, 4 kids tuu)
 
We are expecting to have a nice chilled time here but Gabriel isn't having any of it, we,re taken on an amazing organic fruit farm tour,  see and taste fruit we have never even heard of.  Sleeping plants something local thieves us to fumigate a house put the occupants to sleep and go about there business,  Gabriels sister experienced this once and woke up to find her house stripped bare, no cooker, no beds the whole damn lot, but more commonly it's used to siddate sleepless babies and children. should have pocketet some of it really.  Then there was the 'unbelievable tree'  who fruit is bitter as, but if consumed will for the next 2 hours make all citrus fruit taste sweet,  must be a tastebud halusanigenic.  But worst of all the kids dived into a fruit which is nature's natural 'red bull and vodka' so ust went stratospheric for the next few hours.
  
This place is awash with frogs too come sun set so Cosmo enjoys a new sport of amphibian catching and doesn't seem a bit concerned when one LARGE one lands right on his head.  He at once has it in his grasp and it proceeds to pee on him. Nice!
 
 Colins favourite, drinking straight from the tree, Orange juice doesn't get fresher, and no washing up or wasteful plastic cups required.
 
For the rest of our stay we make chocolate from Cacao pods to sauce, and, Tagua Jewerley from scavenged Tagua nuts on the jungle floor into wonderful natural and rather beautiful rings. Really not much r-'n-r but by comparison to other days it's a bit more relaxing.
 
 
The final Bus Ride home
Bitten, sleep deprived, fall of incredible experiences we think it's time for home.  So we take the last set of Buses,  Cosmo is dicidedly under the weather so poor love having to endure 10 hrs of busses was quite alot.  I think if we had had this experience of bus travel before we perhaps wouldn't have stayed the course but after much waiting around (about 11/2hr) at a caotic bus terminal, watching countless busses pulling out and going in our direction, Colin changes our ticket to another bus company and moments later we are off.  About dusk our bus over takes a whole family whizzing down the main road at about 50mph on a motorbike, in order, 3yr old boy on handlebars, followed by dad followed by mum holding new born out to save the squash.  None I might add without any protective clothing or hats pheewwwww.
 
7pm and we arrive in a dirt street town having missed the last bus back to the boat,  defeated we fork out for a taxi to get our weary family home.  It's the best nights sleep Colin and I have had since we left........... "All well on board"

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