Today we drove from Quito to our next destination, Mashpi Lodge in the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest. On the way, we stopped at the monument marking the equator. The monument had a view deck and a museum, as well as lots of surrounding shops and food stalls. It commemorates the French scientists who came here in the 1700s to confirm that the shape of the earth is flattened at the poles with a bulgy middle instead being of a perfect sphere. Of course, Mick & I had to have our picture taken straddling the equator, to match the one we have from Kenya last year.
One thing I learned in the museum that I found really interesting is that the ancient indigenous cultures here used to bury their dead curled in the fetal position, in a cauldron. Go out as you came in.
Then we proceeded on, slowly due to holiday weekend traffic, to Mashpi. This lovely, serene eco-resort was build on the site of an old logging camp in what is now over 3000 acres of preserve. As promised, it was indeed cloudy when we arrived. I can’t express how much I love it here. Giant flora, lots of birds, and a modern, luxurious building with caring, attentive employees. After getting settled in our room, we met with one of the outings coordinators to learn more about what’s on offer here, then went for an hour-long walk through the forest. Even though it was just a short outing, we saw and heard so much: toucans calling, a White-whiskered Hermit Hummingbird, small blue fruits on a bush related to coffee plants, a giant snail (bigger than my hand!), an ocelot paw print, a guan (type of turkey), and many very cool leaves with amazing vein patterns.
I’m determined to find a balance between doing all the things here and allowing time to really let it soak in. Making sure to sit and look and listen, to sketch and capture colors, and just BE. In between all those great activities that I can do only while I’m here.