After my 4 weeks of volunteering in the Amazonas, I returned to Quito. Obviously, I went back to Casa Urbana Hostel Quito, which is more like a home than a hostel. I was glad to see the super nice owner, Carolina, and Jamshid, the volunteer again.
Fortunately, my friend Elena from Switzerland, whom I had met in Minca (Colombia), was in Quito for one more day and so, the next day. We met up at Juan Valdez Café – my favorite, kind of a Starbucks from South America – where I had spent the morning working on my blog and then we went for lunch. We went to a place close to plaza Foch (Café Galeria or something similar) and their food was delicious. Later, we went back to Juan Valdez for a coffee. We had a very good time together and I was really happy we had had a chance to see each other again. I’m definitely going to visit her some day in Switzerland.
On Sunday, I took the 1PM bus from Quito to Mindo. At the bus station, I met Amy from California, who would become my new best friend. From the beginning I had a feeling that we would get along very well and so I trusted her enough after 5 minutes to leave my bags with her while I went to the bathroom before taking the bus. The bus took about 2 hours to Mindo and it only cost 3,15$. The ride was very nice; the landscape was beautiful. It turned out that Amy was staying at the Guesthouse Mindo, just like me, and so we went there together after our arrival.
Mindo is a tiny town, but it’s pretty cute. The main things to do there are hiking to the waterfalls, tubing, canopy and bird watching. It’s all pretty expensive; Mindo in general is a very expensive place, food, drinks, activities, all of it. The only cheap thing was our guesthouse. The Guesthouse Mindo was pretty basic with only a few rooms and 2 bathrooms, but the owners were wonderful: super friendly, welcoming and helpful. I loved them from the first second and I can only recommend you go there if you’re in Mindo.
After arriving and checking into our hostel, Amy and I went for a walk around town and relaxed a bit before going to the best Italian restaurant I have been to in a very long time. I had gnocchi gratinati and Amy had cannelloni; it was incredible! We had some good wine with it and that night is when we started bonding. Amy is a crazy girl, but I love her. She’s funny, kind, smart and I have the feeling I can tell her anything. ❤️
When we got back to the guesthouse, we decided that we needed more wine and so we went out to get some. To get to the store, we had to pass by the church and suddenly Amy asks: « Can we even buy wine on a Sunday? » Hahaha, I had such a great laugh! Ecuador is not even catholic but evangelic and they certainly wouldn’t prohibit selling alcohol to paying customers in this town. We really had a fun night and laughed a lot.
The next morning, Amy and I went to the hostel El Descanso. It’s a famous place in this town because it has an amazing garden. 25 years ago, the owner bought this place and remodeled the football terrain into a huge garden with different kinds of trees from the surrounding forests. Today, there are countless birds and colibris in his garden and even one very cute mammal; I can’t remember the name, but Amy called it « cat-monkey-sloth ». You can sit there on the terrasse, have a coffee or some food and just watch birds all day, amazing. I liked very much that we were not allowed into the garden itself. This way, the animals don’t get scared and keep coming to this place.
After breakfast, we took a taxi-jeep up to the waterfalls. I liked how happy it made Amy to stand in the back of the jeep and feel the wind in her face. She was so easy to make happy, it was very cute. First, we went to « la reina » waterfall, where we met Matthew. It turned out that he’s also staying at our guesthouse and we decided to spend the day together. The trails in this park were very nice and, fortunately, there were not too many people. Unfortunately, at some point I slipped on a natural stair that was pretty slippery and I sprained my ankle very badly. It hurt a lot and I couldn’t walk anymore. Amy and Matthew sat down with me for a while and we tried to continue, but I knew I wasn’t going to make it. So, I sent them on their way to see the other waterfalls and I returned to the entrance. It was an awful hike; I was in a lot of pain.
From the entrance I took a taxi back into town and, on the way to the doctor’s office, the driver proposed to me! 😄 He was like: «Oh, you’re so beautiful! Marry me! I could drive you back to Quito tomorrow or somewhere else!» He was quite intense, but I told him that I’m engaged – not true, but he doesn’t know that – and I was happy when we finally arrived. That’s something that happens a lot to European or American girls in Central/South America: guys proposing to get a visa. Amy told me she never manages to lie about being with someone and so she always gets proposals and it’s pretty hard for her to get rid of these guys. I told her she should learn to lie better and always have a boyfriend, fiancé or husband readymade when travelling. I always do that when guys I’m not interested in ask me out or ask me to marry them; just take a guy you know/like in real life as a model and spin your story around that. 😉
Anyway, I got to the clinic and they were super nice to me. The doctor who attended me told me that my ancle is sprained. They gave me an injection (in the butt! very painful!) against the pain and against the inflammation. The best of all, it was completely free. The health centers /heath care in Ecuador is completely for free. Great! I mean, I have an insurance who would pay for it, but people in Ecuador are often poor and the health system being for free is great for them.
I spent the rest of the afternoon in the hostel relaxing. In the early evening, Amy, Matt and I went for a beer and when Matts friends Esmee and Shlomo (also from our guesthouse) joined us, we went back to the Italian restaurant from the night before. Amy and I shared: gnocchi with cheese sauce, gnocchi with tomato sauce and lasagna. Esmee is, just like Matt, from England and Shlomo (Jewish) is from California, L.A. Unfortunately, my foot was hurting quite badly and so we went back to the hostel early. There, Amy and I finished our bottle of wine from the night before and relaxed with Matt in the hammocks; Amy & I shared one hammock, there were only 2. Esmee and Shlomo spend their time discussing the Jewish culture. It was a very nice evening and we had a lot of fun, mostly because we couldn’t remember Esmees and Shomos name and we tried to find better names for them. Amy also considered that « Bianca » doesn’t fit me and that she wants to call me « Sarah ». Sure, why not! Hahaha
The next day, Amy, Matt and I took the 11:30AM bus back to Quito and, from there, we took a taxi to my hostel. Since I couldn’t walk, Matt and Amy helped me carry my luggage; that was so sweet! Back in the Casa Urbana Hostel, Jamshid helped me to get my stuff inside and Carolina gave me a room for the rest of the week. It sucked that my sprained ankle didn’t allow me to go to Otavalo as planned, but hey, I love Quito and with Amy, Matt, Jam and Carolina, the company could have been worse. 😊
That night, I went to the Community hostel where Matt stayed to just book a day tour to Otavalo, but there was none for the rest of the week… I guess I was just not supposed to see it and I will have to go there next time I’m in Ecuador. Matt and I went to the Secret Garden Hostel and had a couple of beers in their rooftop bar; from there, you have a stunning view over the whole city and their beer is quite good. Amy joined us a bit later, she had to work a bit. She actually has a super cool summer job: she accompanies adolescents during 4 weeks on their trip to the Galapagos islands. So, she doesn’t only get to go there for free, she even gets payed for it!
After a couple of beers, we went to a brewery in front of the community hostel. Matt and I had a few more beers – Amy doesn’t really like beer, only wine and cocktails – and we shared some amazing food: cheese-sticks, nachos and chicken wings. We had a lot of fun that night – again – and we decided that we all are best friends. I have never spent an evening hugging or holding hands more! 😄 These two people are really special, funny and crazy; I like it!
On Wednesday, I got up late and spent the morning relaxing, a bit tired and hangover from our last nights of partying. In the afternoon, I went with Jam to the historical center because I wanted to find Kallari, a special kind of chocolate from Tena that Rahel had shown us. We went to different stores but couldn’t find it. Instead, I bought some other chocolate from Pacari and we went to “La República del Cacao”. This place is amazing! It smells like chocolate and they have the best frozen chocolate (black chocolate) I have ever had!
On Thursday, I spent the morning relaxing my foot and, in the afternoon, I went to the cinema to watch “Mamma Mia 2 – Here we go again”. I loved this movie: I laughed and cried a lot, one of my favorite movies ever. Later, Jam and I tried to go back to the “República del Cacao”, but it was already closed when we arrived… Instead, we enjoyed the historical center by night and went to La Floresta (another part of Quito) for one of the best pizzas I have ever had. It was delicious!
On Friday, my last day in Quito, I went to the artisanal market and bought some souvenirs for myself and for my family. I managed to get quite a good price by bargaining a lot and then I enjoyed my last night in Quito watching a movie and drinking some wine.
I have loved Ecuador; it’s one of my favorite countries: it has mountains, a jungle and a coast. People are super friendly, welcoming, and helpful and the food is amazing! I already miss it and I’m sure that I’ll be back there some day.