Way back in January Mary was my first visitor on my trip. Since then I have been visited by Courtney, Rachel and Megan then my parents who only left Mexico a few days ago. I have been thrilled to have so many visitors! I can still remember being soooooo excited for Mary to arrive! Mary is one of my best friends and roommates from Bonaventure. Whenever we are together there is lots of laughing, some serious talk and tons of ridiculousness. We only had about 8 or 9 days and there were tons of things we wanted to do in Ecuador.
We spent our first few days in Quito. We visited a market, got Mary a fresh coconut and made it to the Mitad del Mundo – the equator line dividing the hemispheres. The Mitad was very cool. We got to explore all over the mostly empty site, take a million photos, befriend some llamas and balance an egg on a nail. Plus if you stand over the line you are in two places at once, who doesn’t love that? There was also a green screen where you used a timer to take your own picture. We of course took about a dozen pictures, each one somehow more awful than the next. #talented
While we were there we did some bridal shower gift shopping. In the years since college our friend and the then bride-to-be Kat had developed a love for ugly sweater vests. She had a Halloween cat vest that came out at all times of year once she had enough drinks in her. Bolivia and Peru are all about the llama sweaters. I have two, its easy to get obsessed. When we saw (for the first time ever) llama sweater vests we knew we had hit the shower gift jackpot. Matching his and hers llama sweater vests? Yes, please! Mary gifted Kat the vest of both our behalf and thankfully Kat loved them as much as we hoped she would!
Next to the official site is an non-official museum and the actual equator line. That place is hilarious and we highly suggest a visit. There all sort of displays about the indigenous cultures in Peru and the surrounding countries. Shrunken heads and a house full of guinea pigs were our favorites. The museum also had science experiments that were intended for kids but we were totally into it. Did you know that you can’t walk in a straight line on the Equator line? That water spins in one direction North of the Equator and in the other direction South of the line? Also we did our balancing egg trick again – champs!
From Quito we went to Mindo, a little mountain town with some adventure activities. We had a crazy full day of exploring. First thing we woke up at 6am to go to a hummingbird garden. It was incredible. The garden was in the back of a small hotel and had dozens of bird feeders and all the plants and trees hummingbirds like. There must have been at least 200 hummingbirds. There are tons of different kinds, all beautiful and tiny.
After that we took a dip in the pool and then decided we should go white water tubing. White water tubing is a lot like rafting but instead of a raft there are just six inner tubes tied together. Normally groups of 5 go out but since it was the low season they were happy to just take Mary and I. We strap on our helmets and awkwardly climb into our attached tubes. Our guides tells us the river is very high so we should always hold on to our rope handles and if he says hold on tight we gotta hold on REALLY tight. OK… let’s do this. Just before Mary came I got a really bad chest infection which included a horrible cough. So the whole time going down the rough water I was sucking on a cough drop and Mary was screaming at the top of her lungs. The guide thought we were insane but fun.
We went over a pretty large drop and Mary’s tube just catches it wrong. She is all of a sudden doing of backward head stand, up on her shoulders, feet swinging and nearly kicking our guide in the chest. She manages to hold, he manages to duck and all three of us are laughing hysterically. Not 5 minutes later and the same thing happens to me! Once again the guide successfully ducked out of the way and I somehow managed to hold on. The river was cold and crazy and I think with our weirdly balanced weight our guide was struggling a bit but it was awesome.
After that we got into to town and decided what the hell – we were up for another adventure. This time it was ziplining. We went on a huge ziplining course. The lines were really long and we were super high up. I thought Mary screamed while we were rafting but she really let it out – super high, crazy screams every time she went ziplining. Again, hilarious. Our guides died laughing as she screamed her head off. I went through about ten cough drops by the time we were done and nearly pee’d my pants laughing.
Our final day in Mindo we went on a chocolate tour. The tour was excellent. First we were shown all the stages from the cacao fruit, cocoa butter, to the chocolate nibs and finally, candy bar! We had a great tour through the gardens. They diversify the plants as a natural insecticide. Banana plants next to cacao next to coffee and so on which keeps insects away somehow. We saw the drying stations. Chocolate making and packaging processes and then it was time for our tasting! We had a brownie that was legit the best brownie of my life. We also had chocolate sauce – first no sugar which was HORRIBLE. Then a little sugar which was better. This place specialized in sauces – a ginger sauce, a chili sauce and a balsamic sauces. All were amazing the ginger and the balsamic were for sure my favs. We decided to eat there and it was honestly one of my best meals in all of my trip. We share steak with coffee sauces and a chicken with chocolate sauce. My mouth waters just thinking about it. SO GOOD.
From Mindo we wanted to get some beach time. The trip wasn’t quite as quick as we expect and we ended up spending almost a whole day on the bus. Canoa was a lovely little beach town. We spent our first day just hanging out, swimming and hitting up the different happy hours. There were lots of little shops near our (super crappy) beach motel. One of the shops was owned by Face Tat. A man who had tattoos on both sides of his face who became obsessed with Mary. We avoided him but the town is small and he seemed to pop up everywhere! That night we went out and danced under the stars at a beach bar and who was there but Face Tat. Alright we’re calling it a night. On our final day we decided to just camp out of the beach. Around hour 4 Face Tat came and found us and didn’t want to leave. We went from politely disinterested to aggressively telling him to leave us alone. In all the excitement Mary forgot to apply sunblock and later that night climbed onto the bus with a truly terrible sunburn. Whoops! Just what you want for a plane ride back to the States!
It was blast having her. There is nothing like spending time and sharing your adventures with the people you love!