Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday, March 2nd, Quito, Ecuador


The last day on any adventure (excluding the long flight home day) usually contains some wondering about if we missed anything.  And whether we'd do the trip differently now that we know what we do. Our answers on this trip are that we would put the destination for today (Mindo Protected Cloud Forest) earlier.  And we would encourage Adventures Abroad to include the National Museum officially on the tour.  But other than that, we'd not change a thing.

Alejandra, our guide for today, is terrific.  Very much like Diego and Wilson, she loves being a tour guide.  They all embody the reason why tour guides should be supported in their work.  Nation-building requires ongoing efforts by passionate individuals who know their country and want to help in mature.   Locally-raised, and well-trained tour guides, employed by a network of cooperating entities (foreign and domestic) are essential to enable travelers to understand a country.  They should be better organized to protect their rights and to expand their capabilities.  One of the lessons I've learned here is how valuable these unrecognized ambassadors are.

We began the day with a visit to Puluhua Caldera, a viewpoint overlooking a large valley containing a small village.  In a recently-contructed entrance area, we talked about the impact of the government offering free and unsupervised access to parks subsidized by advance payments from the Chinese for long-term oil exploration rights.  We all agreed that nothing is forever in governmental budgets.    

Mindo Protected Cloud Forest lies on one of the roads from Quito to the coast, and a spectacular road it is.  Alejandra's ability to navigate the landslide-prone route, while alerting us to every nuance of climate zone changes to plants and trees, amazed us.  The destinations she chose for us to visit, and the people she chose for us to support, again demonstrated tour guiding at its best.

What I like most about the Hosteria Mariposa de Mindo is their comprehensive approach to displaying the life-cycle of the butterfly.  Their facility is designed to let you get as close as possible to the entire process.

And the hummingbirds everywhere are nothing to sneeze at.

Later, we visited the owner of an orchid farm who cares for over 200 species, many of which were brought to her by the police as a result of raids on illegal orchid operations.  Her knowledge of each was extensive, and she seemed pleased to hear I would send her a link to the photos I took to add to her records.

Tonight, we had a nice dinner at the hotel, and packed up our bags.  Tomorrow, we fly home.

To see the photos we took today, click on Saturday, March 2nd, Quito, Ecuador.

To see a short video we made of the butterfly enclosure, click on Hosteria Mariosa de Mindo.

No comments: