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Ecuador 2017 – December 23, 2017

Saturday, December 23, 2017

This morning we have a bit of a logistical issue as breakfast start at 7:00 and our pickup is scheduled for 7:00. We hit the breakfast area early in hopes some food and coffee will be available. We are in luck as everything is ready except for the scrambled eggs. We eat quickly before meeting our guide in the lobby.

The first stop on today’s tour is a chocolate factory where we have a cup of coffee and a very rich chocolate brownie. We thought that a tour of the factory was included, but it turns out that it is an optional add-on. Instead we sit out on the porch enjoying the birds and the rainforest atmosphere.
Flowers
Chris
After our second breakfast we get to go on a zip line tour. There are a total of 10 ziplines of various lengths along the course. We are joined by another adventurous family group from California who have a couple of daughters around Chris’s age. Each zip is followed by a short hike uphill to the next platform, and I think we are still affected by the altitude a bit as our breath is a bit heavy. After the first couple of warm ups, the guides allowed 2 people to “superman” or “butterfly”. In these positions you zip accompanied by a guide. “Superman” faces you forward with arms extended to each side flying over the gorge and “butterfly” is head down with both legs and arms outstretched. What a head rush! Zip lines 8 and 10 are the fast lines as you race towards the ending platform.
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Zip line
Our next stop on today’s tour was a location that had a number of hummingbird feeders setup. There were a large number of hummingbirds visiting as we could immediately hear the hum in the air. After watching the birds for a while, Jason makes an observation. There are many different varieties, but there is a red-green variety that appears to claim its own individual bird feeder. It does not care if other varieties come to visit. But if another red-green variety shows up it will immediately jump off its branch and chase it away.
Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds
Our tour guide, Angel, took us to a restaurant where we were served a traditional Ecuadorian lunch that consisted of soup, trout, rice, and potatoes. I am really getting tired of the starches and would really like to have some other vegetables. As we are eating a couple of vendors come through selling their tropical fruits and macadamias nuts, which sort of surprised me as for some reason I though they just came from Hawaii. After lunch we take a stroll through town noticing the community park, the small shops, and a butcher shop with a whole pig hanging from a meat hook. Mindo seems to be a quite relaxed town with a few expats visiting for a while or an extended stay.

The last stop on today’s tour is the equator museum. As you might guess, it is located right on the equator, latitude 0, 0’, 0”. A couple of interesting experiments are setup that help illustrate the Coriolis Effect. The first experiment is a basin of water. When on the equator and plug is pulled, the water pours straight down. Move the basin to the south and repeat, the water spins clockwise. Move the basin a few feet north of the equator, and the water will spin counter-clockwise.
Equator
Equator
Equator
The next experiment was balancing a raw egg on a nail head. While still a challenge, it is supposedly easier on the equator than elsewhere. I can’t say that I had ever tried this before, but I was able to balance the egg on the nail head after I put on my “thinking glasses.”
Equator
Equator
Equator
Equator
The last experiment we tried was balancing while walking a straight line. Typical of a field sobriety test: heel-to-toe, arms extended to the side, and eyes closed. Apparently the forces are different than what the body is expecting making the task very difficult. “Seriously officer, I wasn’t drinking… I blame the Coriolis Effect!”

On the way back to town we stopped at an Ecuadorian ice cream store. The helados de paila or fruit sorbet is handmade in copper bowls. They used to gather ice from the glaciers and insulate it in straw for transport to the lower lying areas. Then they will manually spin the bowl around in the salted glacier ice to freeze the fruit juices. Today they don’t have to get their ice from glaciers. As we continued to town, the drive proved rather difficult as the 23rd is the biggest shopping day here. The market is packed and streets are heavy with traffic. As it turns out, the 24th is Ecuador’s big day of celebration for Christmas; families gather for a big evening meal and exchange of presents. So today everyone is doing their last minute shopping before tomorrow.
Quito traffic
Finally reaching the hotel, we have a short break before we go in search of dinner. Vicky and I walk to an ATM that is a couple of blocks away. Next to the ATM we find Wonder Woman, Spider Man, and Iron Man posing for pictures. I feel much safer withdrawing money with the superheroes nearby!

For dinner we walk down Guayaquil road towards the tourist area. This is the same area where we had dinner the first night Quito. We sit on the roof level with a nice view of the guardian Virgin Mary overlooking the city from her hilltop perch. Now, Christmas lights are decorating the hilltop as well and occasional fireworks arc in the distant sky.

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