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Not to be confused with the Cloud City where Lando Calrissian is from…

Quito is on the inland side of the Andes, or more correctly in a small valley at the top.  The valley is actually a volcanic fault line that split open long ago.  But just on the seaward side of the mountains is the Cloud Forest of Mindo.  This was our place to explore today.

After another really tasty and healthy breakfast we were off with Andrew again.  Our first stop was Alambi reserve to view hummingbirds.

There are 127 different kinds of hummingbirds here.  From small to really really small.  As well as a bunch of different kinds of Tanagers.

Some photos of the fast little guys.

We also got to see a nesting Cock of the Rock but she was smart and nested under a bridge in a very dark place.  So we saw her and took some blurry photos but nothing worth posting here.

This is a replica that is at the side of the road.   And no they aren’t 12′ tall like this one.  More large parrot sized.

From here we went to a cocoa plantation and chocolate factory.  This place has won awards and sells their cocoa to very high end global manufacturers.  We got a good tour of how chocolate is made and then got to sample.  Right from the car when we got out you could smell ginger and fresh cocoa.  Intoxicating.

Here is what a cocoa pod looks like:

And here is one cut open.  The fruit surrounding the cocoa seeds tastes sweet and a little like guava.

The seeds (or beans) are fermented for about a week and then dried. 

The beans are then roasted and shelled in these machines.  Coffee roaster on the right, cocoa on the left.

From there it is pressed and separated into a paste-like chocolate (right of the below photo) and cocoa butter (left).

It is then mixed with sugar and other ingredients (pepper, mint, nuts etc).  Then cooled and formed.  Because this is a factory and a plantation we got to sample some of the finished product.  You guessed it, single source organic chocolate produced in very small batches is rather good.  Unbelievable amazingly good.  Yes we bought some to bring home.  You will have to be very nice to us to get any 😉

They also grow coffee and ginger here which they add to some of their chocolate bars.  As this was also lunch we had some ginger ale.  Wow.

I had a chicken breast covered in a salsa of onion, peppers and coffee.  I will have to try this one at home too.  Yucca root fries too.  Food here is awesome.

After lunch we headed to another place to see more hummingbirds and hopefully some Toucans.  But the rain came in a deluge so we only saw some more hummingbirds and Tanagers.  Toucans took shelter and didn’t come to play.

On our way we did get to see a truck recovery operation.  Two cranes and a tow truck to pull a semi out of the ditch.  Nobody was hurt but it did block the road for a while and provided us some entertainment.

On our way back we stopped at a volcano to view the farmers living in the caldera.  Free land but it has risks!  Once again the clouds meant we could only hear and not see.

Andrew was able to get our new phone working so we will have internet mostly.  Assuming of course we are in cel phone range.  It only came with 200MB of data so tomorrow I will venture forth and add some “real” capacity.  We can chew through as much as 1GB per day if we have no hotel wifi to use.  Photo blogs suck up data as well as  everything else we do.  It has become mandatory now on holiday but keeping in touch is worth it.

Tomorrow we embark on our train tour.  We are with a group so we become sheep in a herd for a few days.  Small herd though, should be good.

One comment on “Ecuador Day 3 – Cloud Forest of Mindo

  1. Grace Shaw says:

    Wonderful birds…..keep it up. A will identify. Love, mom

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