hun | eng

10-16th March 2015 Mindo, Canoa - Ecuador

  • Mindo was a day-trip from Quito to spend it in the cloudforest. The area is considered as one of the best birdwatching spots (400 bird species have been identified in Mindo) in South America. Well, I haven't seen any during the whole day! ;) And there is also a butterfly farm with 250 species of butterflies. After seeing the Blue Morpho I was not so curious to go. Rather, to gather some energy for the outdoor activities I went to take a chocolate tour.
    A superkind guide explained the history and the process of making cacao and chocolate. We were walking around the garden to see aloe vera, stevia, sugar canes, coffee, lemongrass, etc. all looking very powerful. The soil near volcanoes supposed to be among the richest and most fertile and grow the best tasting coffee, cacao, tea, fruits and the most fragrant flowers.
  • He showed me how to dry, roast and break up the beans. Then the cacao nibs have to be grounded into a thick paste called chocolate liquor, which is by itself bitter and not very creamy. From this step on they can make either cocoa or chocolate bars. To make cocoa powder, the liquor is pressed to remove the fat, the cocoa butter. This will be used in making chocolate, and also in cosmetics and medicines. What is then left of the liquor is dry and can be ground into cocoa powder. To get chocolate, you have to sweeten the liquor with sugar and vanilla and has to add cocoa butter and milk for a finer texture. Then all is stirred and let it cool and we have the chocolate! And as the best part, we tasted 100% cacao, with and without sugar, chili pepper and ginger and an amazing brownie. Yummy! The guide told me that the Indians were drinking a special drink that energized them: they added pepper, honey and cinnamon into it. Sounds like a powerful drink…
    After all the tastings I definitely felt ready to do zipline and see the waterfalls. I took a cable car, or better said, hanging basket -was really cool- about 150 meters above the trees and took a walk in the cloud forest to see the waterfalls. Then I went to try the canopy as I really liked the idea of flying above cloud forest and valleys, a unique way to see it, but I felt no adrenaline.
  • My last stop in Ecuador, Canoa. I was spending a few relaxing days there, at the Pacific Ocean. Has a beautiful beach, the longest (17 km long) in Ecuador with steep cliffs in the background. This small village was a perfect place for me to chill-out, to do some sport finally and to catch up on emails, photos, etc. The ocean and the beach is great, but remember this is not the Bahamas.
    And as I mentioned earlier, I tried surfboarding! and I bet it is huge fun when you are already good at it. It was great for 90 mins too, but I ended the lesson with no skin on my knee, and could stay standing on the board and actually surfing for about 15 sec. Not much, but was a good feeling. Keep standing on the board is not a big deal, but to get there, so standing up while riding the waves...was challenging for me. Otherwise I was just enjoying the waves in the ocean.
    After all I took an overnight bus back to Quito, then a day long bus ride got me to Salento, to the heart of the coffee country, Colombia!