Today was a long day of riding on the bus. We got up and had breakfast AT 6:30, then left the lodge in Mindo by 7:00. We traveled West through Ecuador, and stopped about 2 hours into the trip at an African Palm Tree farm, owned by our guide's friend, Xavier. We got to see the tall palm trees and learn about their uses. The owner sells the palm fruit to the processing companies that will make the palm oil. The trees last about 30 years, and will make fruit every year. After that time, they chop them down to plant new ones. The new ones will be ready to make new fruit after 3 years. Pretty neat to see these up close.
We got back on the bus for a long drive. We stopped about every 2 hours, and even ate lunch on the bus. We headed West through Ecuador, then traveled down the Via del Sol (road of the Sun) toward our destination of Ayampe. Below is a picture of what they use for taxis in the small ocean towns:
We finally arrived at the hotel around 5:00pm. We checked into our rooms/cabins, then met up for a walk down to the beach. The sand is darker than we expected, but the water was warm (for those that wanted to swim in the ocean). As promised, my picture of the group on the beach:
Supper was at 7:30, so most just talked and used WiFi until then in the lodge area. Today is Taylor's 21st birthday, so we had the hotel bring a cake for her to celebrate. Happy Birthday, Taylor!
After supper, the sky was extremely clear, so we hung out on the upper deck to look at the stars. Since we are now in the Southern hemisphere, we do not see the same constellations as we see from home. Pretty awesome! Tomorrow we hike the Machalilla National Forest, and swim at some beaches. Don't worry - we have plenty of sunscreen to go around!