Walking the Mud Trails of Mindo

When you are in the cloud forest, you expect it to rain.
This was not a disappointment, as it rained quite a bit, but with the river
roaring behind the cabin, it was difficult to distinguish the rain from the
river. It was not until we tried navigating the muddy streets that we felt the magnitudinal
effects of the weather.
It was difficult to drag us away from the bird feeders.
There was one on each deck with the lower deck having a much larger one. They
would go through two liters of sugar water two times a day. They could have
done with more, but we only refilled it this often. Olaf had to restock our
sugar water supply with a six-liter bottle. There is such entertainment going
on.

It is difficult to tell from the photos, but the darker
hummingbirds, are iridescent green and blue on their chests. The tail feathers
are an orangey rust color, but you can only see it when they flutter.  What really cracked me up was when one of him
or her would outstretch one

wing to knock another bird off the feeder. There are
an estimated 400 varieties of birds in the Mindo area.

There is a tourism office in Mindo, but it does not open
until 2pm. Go figure! We trudged around the town for a couple of hours, trying
to discover what there was to do that our aging bodies would allow. There is not
much, though Ron has fantasies of doing dozens of things until reality kicks in
or a muscle protests.
Centered in the city is a small park, it is pleasant, but
looks

like the gardeners went on strike a few months earlier. Birds adorn the benches.
A statue of what appears to be a gringo backpacker sits on one edge of the
park, sans explanation.

We tried doing a little grocery shopping for meals. What is
it with butter in this country? Once again, we had a difficult time finding
real butter. In Quito, we went to two large supermarkets looking for butter,
but only found margarine. When I ask for mantequilla, they bring me to the
margarine, which sits on regular shelves, not even in the refrigerator
sections.
Here in Mindo, it was the same story, different town.
Finally, I said to one shop owner who tried passing off margarine as a
substitute “Quiero mantequilla de una vaca. I want butter from a cow.” A look
of surprise came over her face, but then she directed me to the one shop that
had such a rare commodity.
Well, I did learn something new today. Geese can have blue
eyes. Two of these critters were wandering around the muddy street. They tried
to attack my shoes, but I held my ground. This

perplexed them; they did not know
how to react, but I they did allow a portrait shot.

We stopped at a small restaurant for an almuerzo at the cost
of $2.50 each. The young, beautiful waitress never smiled until I gave her a
tip. Then her face exploded showing her pearly whites. 
But while we were
eating, a beige non-descript hound like dog appeared at the door. He never once
set foot inside the restaurant, but stared at us without interruption through
the entire meal. He had me, so I saved him a handful of rice and a good chunk
of my sliced chicken. The rice I set on the sidewalk away from the entrance. He
ate every kernel in spite of not looking underfed. When we left, I broke the
chicken into small bites to feed to him as we walked. Even after the food was
gone, he followed us for an hour. Every now and then, he would knock into my
leg. The first time it happened, it made me think I was being harassed by a
person.
Every city in Ecuador where we have been, there are
literally thousands of stray dogs. Reason would dictate that eventually, they
would form packs that could be dangerous, but this does not seem to happen.
They all fend for themselves and even when they travel together, they are more
than willing to be offered any type of affection. The majority are so loveable
looking, it is heartbreaking to see the life they have to lead.
In Cuenca, the rescues are trying to get laws to change the
situation, but even there puppies are for sale in pet shops and even open air
markets. They are adorable when they are puppies, but then get abandoned when
they are adults. In Quito, we witnessed dozens of people carrying their puppies
around with them like babies. In contrast, we did not see many if any people
carrying or even walking their dogs in public.
Ron investigated the Yellow
House,
the legendary place

where you hand over $6 for the luxury of hiking
on their property to bird watch. He went off on his own; $12 seemed to get
stuck in my craw. The trail leads for four miles. He claims to have quit after
one, but still had not seen any birds.

Tomorrow, we will do the chocolate tour to fill an hour.
Quite honestly, I do not have to do a thing other than watch the hummingbirds
and the yellow-breasted birds feed on the feeder while listening to the river.
Perfect relaxation!