This post originally published on a previously-owned blog and was imported here to simplify my life. Please excuse any confusion due to this merge. I hope you enjoy the content!
My ever-researching husband found a terrifically rated botanical gardens slash coffee plantation 45 minutes away from Quito. Having worked pretty long hours this week in my job, I readily agreed to Mike’s suggestion to go for a drive on Saturday and explore this place and maybe even the nearby town Mindo. Mindo, by the way, had been mentioned to me several times as a “must go.”
So as soon as our landlord had visited and picked up the rent money for the month, sunscreen was applied and water bottles were filled (because all tourists have water bottles), we were off!
I was well familiar with the beginning of the drive because I had done it already twice in the last couple weeks with my driving instructor. It’s waaaay out of town. As soon as we got to the toll booth (we think to enter the national forest?), we were in new territory and dependent on Mike’s memory of the map.
It was a pleasant (and gorgeous) drive as we just chit-chatted and enjoyed the unconnected time away. After well over an hour, Mike asked me to pull the map up on a phone. I didn’t quite go “uh oh” in my mind, but turns out we had totally missed the turnoff for the botanical gardens. We decided that we’d just continue on to Mindo for lunch, explore it a bit and try to find the “super awesome place” on the way back. Why they wouldn’t have good signs from the main road stumps us!
We drove through the town, found a place to park and basically went into the first non-seafood restaurant we found that looked like it’d have a bathroom. 🙂 We shared a pizza which was phenomenal and then walked up and down the main little road to see what it held. Some good looking restaurants and several tourist shops – with ziplining, tubing and other adventurous offers.
We really wanted to find our original destination so back in the little car we went. Many kilometers later, we did find the right turnoff (well, we missed it but turned around again and hoped it was the right one – still no sign). I can’t remember exactly how many many kilometers we went after that till we finally saw a sign for the plantation!
Great, we were on the right track.
Then we finally get down THAT whole road and the next sign has us turn onto an unpaved road. I imagine a larger vehicle could have gone “off-roading” on this road a bit faster than our little Barbie car but still – the boasted “45 minutes from Quito” was an UNTRUTH. Haha. We were so far into the warm jungle and went so many miles without seeing other humans while avoiding large holes, fallen rubble and rushing through mudslides so we didn’t stuck, it was slightly unnerving.
But we were absolutely determined to make it to the end. We realized most people probably take them up on the option of being picked up in Quito by a bus (based on there being zero comments in the reviews about the road/drive) but we had believed them that you can drive your own car… Barely!!
And look we finally see the official sign, we’re super close now….
Then we get to the point you see in this picture:
Ahh, you’ve noticed you’re at the end of this story…
Yes. We got within less than 0.3 km (0.19 miles) of the “must see” place and couldn’t pass. By then the sun had gone away and it was dumping rain. It was sad. I stood out in the rain and guided Mike through an 85-point turn (slight exaggeration) so he didn’t go off the cliff and we started our drive home. Actually, we had one more stop. Comically, and still in the dumping rain in the middle of the now-cold Ecuadorian jungle, I had to take one more pit stop, if you will.
It may have had a non-ideal ending, our adventure day as it was, but we had a blessed and memorable time together. Maquipucuna, it might be a long time till we try to visit you again but we wish you well.
P.S. We got stuck behind this for a while on the way back: