We were so ready to leave Quito, but when our ride to Cotopaxi fell through, we decided to reconsider all our options. Instead of heading south so quickly, we decided to head north for a bit to a tiny town called Mindo, that I got excited about when we were reading the guidbooks before we left.
Going to Mindo, too, left us half a day to explore one of the famous volcanos just outside the city, Volcan Pinchincha. 5 years ago, they built teleferiQo, a sky tram, that takes you half-way up the mountian. Very touristy, but worth every dollar--stunning viewa. Once we got to the top, you could walk another 3 hours to get to the crater of the volcano, but we didn't have time, and I was feeling a little under the weather, so we rented horses instead, and a nice man from the San Francisco commuity, in Quito, led us to a tiny waterfall, and told us many interesting things about the volcano. He told us that it is known as Rucca Pinchincha, meaning sleeping, because it is dormant, and also as Cara Sucre, the face of Sucre, a local hero, because the peaks look like a man's face looking up. The most interesting cultural note about teleferiQo is that they seemed very determined to keep the Ecuadorians separate from the foreigners. Separate lines and separate cabs (they hold 6 people each, to take you up the mountain). At one point, Arturo accidentally got in the Ecuadorian line, and we almost got on the cab with locals, until they saw me. Then they made us wait and ride the next cab with the other tourists, ha!
From Vulcan Pinchincha, it was a sprint to catch our bus to Mindo. Luckily, we fueled up with a hot dog (covered with carrots, tomato, crushed Ruffles, and pinapple marmelade), because we had to cross town to get our bags, then cross town again to get to the bus station at what seemed like rush hour. We could barely fit in the bus, and sadly, we lost our nun-honey along the way, but we made it to the station 2 minutes before the last bus left for Mindo. Whew.
We are so glad to be in quiet, green Mindo. Our hostel has a stream running beside it, and the weather is warmer than Quito. We have declared this our place to rest. At dinner, we tried our new favorite food, Quimbolito--kind of like a tamale, but sweet, made of some kind of grain that I have never had before, with raisins in it. Delicioso!
Oh, and by the way, we have heard yet another story about the ban on alcohol. At one restaurant, we were sad to find that the ban was not just in Quito, but in the whole country, and that is was not 3 days, but 60! The man told us that 21 people had died from bad alcohol. And maybe it was callous of us, but it just made us want a beer that much more. So, we asked until we found a place that would serve us beer (she could only serve us beer if we were ordering food, too, she told us). We tried 2 local beers: Club y Pilsener. Both tasted like a cross between Corona and Buswieser. Yum--well, any beer would have tasted good after a day like today.