Sunday, February 27
Despite setting the alarm, neither of us heard it go off, so we were awakened by a loud pounding on the downstairs entry-way. We leaped out of bed and turned on the light – but there was no power! Luckily we had packed the previous evening, so we dressed by flashlight and hurried out. Of course with no power it was impossible to pay the bill, but in bus-station Spanish we managed to get through to the night clerk and tell him that we would be back in a few days and that our credit card number was in their computer.
Once down at the van, there was already one couple on board and we picked up four more people before heading out of Quito towards the lodge. Our route took us back along the road we had come in the previous night, then past the Equator monument and out into the countryside. The main highway towards the coast was a two-lane road, which was in reasonable shape. However the drivers seemed to pass other cars and buses whenever they wanted to, despite the road being very twisty. After some time we turned off the highway onto an unmarked dirt road, then wound our way through various farms and up and down and around for a further 40 minutes before arriving at the Bellavista Lodge.
The first order of business was breakfast, which consisted of fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, and tea. All very satisfying. As our rooms weren’t ready yet, we all went out on a bird walk. There is a large number of trails around the lodge, and we started out on the Field trail which took us up to the road, then along the road and back down the Heliconia trail. Most people on the walk had opted to wear the rubber wellies and take walking sticks, as the route was muddy in spots, and that turned out to be a good idea. Along the route we stopped often to look at birds, plants, and one frog. Andrea, our guide, also told us about the medicinal properties of some of the plants.
By the time we had finished the walk the rooms were ready. We were luckily put into the room over the office. It had windows on three sides, a sitting area, and a small kitchen. Our bed was right beside the floor-to-ceiling window, so we could bird-watch without even getting up.
One of the fun things to do here was to sit and watch the hummingbird feeders. Within a short space of time Paul’s life list had increased by five species.
Lunch consisted of plantain soup, roast chicken and potatoes, and cake for dessert. The rest of our group were all British; four were from the Channel Islands and the other two from Bath. We also found out from Andrea that our trip to the Cock-of-the-Rock lek would be tomorrow.
After lunch we agreed to meet Andrea to go on another walk, this time a short birding walk up the road. By now clouds had socked in and the rain was coming down, but we had our rain capes which kept us dry. We saw a fair number of species despite the weather. Dinner was at 7 pm so we checked the bird book and relaxed a bit before heading down to the dining room.
Dinner tonight consisted of soup followed by spaghetti with a soya protein sauce, and watermelon for dessert. Neither of us cared much for the sauce. After dinner we organized our packs, since the plan was to leave at 4:30 am tomorrow in order to reach the lek by dawn. This time we set the alarm and left the watch on the night table, in hopes that we would actually hear it. It was quite lovely looking out into the forest with the rain coming down, but we both needed to sleep.