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The Big Bulge, Giant Grasshoppers, and Other Creeping Things

Today we got an early start and began another six-hour journey north to Mindo. We decided to take another “shortcut” which turned out to be an incredibly scenic trip in the shadow of Mount Chimborazo (aka “the big bulge”) – a 20,000-foot peak that is said to be the furthest point from the earth’s core.

The word “shortcut” has taken on a whole new meaning. I started laughing and couldn’t stop at one point when after our “shortcut” became a bit treacherous – we actually had to get out (twice) so the van could make clearance. The second time we pushed El Camello (the Camel) out of a ditch and up the hill towards the big bulge.

Getting ever closer to the bulge, the laughter continued as we got out of the van numerous times to take pictures of i from every possible angle. DC put it best when he said “sometimes it’s hard to take the bulge in all at once.” We passed right directly underneath the mountain

Our first attempt at photographing the big bulge (he was a little shy at first)

when our two-track miraculously transformed into the Pan American Highway (hooray!) at which point, we all fell asleep.

We headed toward Quito to drop off our friend Anita (Samuel’s love) and from there we continued on to Mindo which is deep in the heart of a protected rainforest. After dropping Anita off, we continued on and (once again) the landscape started to transform. We began the day surrounded by mesas and above-tree line scrub brush reminiscent of New Mexico’s landscape, and we descended into a thick canopy of lush green jungle.

Again we arrived just in time to eat (we have great timing that way) and were served a delicious meal of chicken, fresh salad, and potatoes. After so much time in the car, we needed to stretch so after dinner, we took a walk.

One block from our hostel, the biggest grasshopper I have ever seen surprised me. It was at least 6 inches long and B I G. DC bravely picked up our gigante (gigantic) friend and when he released him, he flew over to Joni’s foot and didn’t want to let go!

We returned to the hostel tired but content and looking forward to learning more about the jungle we are surrounded by. I stayed up to work awhile and when I was

DC's giant grasshopper encounter

finished, I had a friend waiting for me on the step – a big, black, tarantula. No one else was awake and I was trapped (there was only one way to my room) with my new buddy standing right where I needed to pass. I decided to keep my distance and see what he did. Slowly, slowly, he crawled off into another room – and when he did, I grabbed my bag and ran upstairs.

Jenny (our Ecuadorian friend who lives in New York) was still up reading so I shared the encounter with her. She put everything in perspective when she started telling me stories about all of the insects, serpents, and scorpions (!) that she has encountered when visiting her family members in the rainforest.

Right before we turned in, I noticed what looked like a large moth (the size of a chickadee) outside our window. Jenny said it was the Mariposa Butterfly – which is one of the largest and most beautiful in the world.

Needless to say sleep eluded me. Every time I closed my eyes, I envisioned a dark, furry, eight-legger climbing up onto the bed…


2 Responses

  1. Juliette,
    Sounds like an interesting adventure and cultural enlightenment. I’m keeping Doug busy with some updates for me. I told him I’ll probably have to work for you all summer to break even. Have a safe journey. Call when you get back.

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