Mindo to the coast

The Mindo Valley is meant to be a paradise for birdwatching. I saw about 5 different species of hummingbird which seems nice until you realise there are 132 different species to be found in Ecuador. Only 127 left to go! Then I went to Puerto Lopez which is the jumping off point for tours to Isla de la Plata, the so-called Poor Man’s Galapagos, more birds! Prepare yourself for lots of photos of birds.

 

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I couldn’t not do a chocolate tour in Ecuador. Good to learn about the process and try 100% cocoa which is way too bitter until you add lots of sugar
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The business end of chocolate making
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Hummingbirds are really amazing to see. So small and so fast. So brightly coloured too. I think this is a White-Necked Jacobin.
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I visited a garden (basically the back yard that some guy converted into a hummingbird mecca). These feeders were hives of activity. Here are 3 different species in one shot. I easily spent a couple of hours there

 

 

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Those long beaks are for reaching nectar in flowers. I never realised that they must also have a very long tongue. Just happened to get a photo of it here
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I think this is a Rufous tailed hummingbird. It was my favourite
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It wasn’t only hummingbirds but other no-humming ones too. This is a Pacific Hornero
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Let me tell you, it’s seriously difficult to photograph hummingbirds. They move so quickly and the wings beat so fast, from 50 to 80 times a second (but the head doesn’t budge). Plus under the tree canopy it is actually very dark. I had to take about 400 photos to get these shots.
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It would be nicer to have photos of hummingbirds taking nectar from flowers but sugar water from feeders attracts more of them. These are Green Crowned Brilliants (I think). Hummingbirds are one of the most amazing animals I’ve ever seen. It’s mesmerising to watch them
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Also visited a butterfly farm. This was an interesting one with translucent wings
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It’s hard to believe that those are actually not dried leaves but butterfly chrysalis
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A beautiful blue morpho butterfly
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The host of the guesthouse offered to drive me out of the valley and into the next town so I could catch my bus to the coast. I didn’t know what I was agreeing to as he was under the illusion that I spoke Spanish and I didn’t want to correct him for some reason. Little did I know he would take me in an antiquated death trap. I literally still bear a scar from when I banged my shin against the sharp doorframe, why would they make it sharp? Did people just like to live dangerously in the 70s?
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Anyway I arrived safely in Puerto Lopez and enjoyed the ocean. You hear a lot about “digital nomads” these days; people who work remotely from anywhere in the world, usually somewhere nice like Chiang Mai in Thailand. So here is a shot of me taking a beer and doing some work on a manuscript by the beach. Not bad. Difference between me and the typical millennial digital nomad is that nobody was paying me to work :/ publish or perish
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Isla de la Plata. Male Frigate bird and a puffed up throat
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Blue footed booby!
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They really have blue feet
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Lots of crabs on the beach. We went snorkelling too which was mightily impressive though I have no photos- should have bought a GoPro. Anyway saw a blue-footed booby as I surfaced from a dive, he looked at me like “so….see any good fish down there buddy?”
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Final destination in Ecuador was the pleasant city of Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest. For me it was like a more charming and smaller Quito. However somehow it also felt like a different country
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Impressive cathedral

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There are some modest Inca ruins in the city. Just a warmup…

 

Next up: Entering Peru

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