After breakfast at Mirador, we shoot for a while and then take off for our second lodge on our itinerary, Mindo Loma. Eating and sleeping area are separated here with many steps up a hillside to reach the rooms. Perhaps in deference to my age, I am given a single room beneath the office. My first look was not encouraging. One bare bed frame was in the corner of the room; no mattress or pillow, no table, no AC, no heat, no towel, nothing. A young men tried to assure me with a combination of Spanish and English that the room would be ready later in the day and it was. On my next check, I had a mattress and blankets, even a night stand. But that evening I learned there was no hot water, zero, not even a hint of warm. And there never was.
Bird feeders are mostly on the rear deck with one in a courtyard in front of the office. We are allowed to move chairs from the dining room and place our cameras in front of the feeders and wait for a bird to come in, my idea of ideal nature photography. A cold Pilsener by my side helped to make the waiting times pass quickly.
During our evening meal, a Kinkajou was seen through the window taking bananas meant for the larger birds. The Kinkajou is sometimes called a honey bear but is a member of the raccoon family. To some, its face looked a little like an opossum. We were ready for it on the following night but once the flashes started, the animal became quite leery and only some of us were able to get a decent photo. I wasn’t one of them as my best shot is slightly out of focus..
Someone suggested a hike to a waterfall. My spirit was willing but my body wasn’t. The trail was very slick, muddy, and quite steep. I did a U after fifty yards or so but Colin went all the way only to fall twice more. Again, his equipment survived the spill.
It was almost a Twilight Zone thing. A man who was not in our party approached our man John as he sat in the courtyard and said “Aren’t you John Thornton?” Turns out both men were on the faculty of Oklahoma State University at the same time. Here we are, 3000 miles from Stillwater in a remote lodge deep in the rain forest of Ecuador, and two old friends cross paths. What are the odds?
The courtyard and walkways here are built of cement with embedded river rock, pretty but hard to walk on, and treacherous when wet. Those multiple steps leading to the other rooms are completely unlit at night, navigable only if you own a small flashlight. I can only conclude that Ecuador has very few personal injury lawyers.