Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Quito and Beyond

Quito, Ecuador

As you have probably surmised by now, I indeed made it to Quito, and on to the cloud forest town of Mindo. Internet access was difficult from Mindo, and the schedule of conference events was quite full, so I have been unable to do much blogging. It was a great trip, and I’ll fill in the details over the next few posts. I’m writing this one on the plane from Quito to Miami.

The gondola

Páramo. Note the tussock grasses in the foreground.

On Monday morning, we flew from Guyaquil to Quito. We spent the day in Quito, and did a couple of touristy things. My favorite was a trip by cable car up to high elevation, about 13,000’, where we got to walk in the páramo vegetation. Páramo is a high-elevation grassland dominated by tussock grasses and cushion The weather was mostly overcast. We saw only a few birds and a couple of white butterflies in the páramo.

A cushion plant in the Asteraceae

Another cushion plant

A high-altitude lupine

Returning to Quito, we visited a couple of churches, and were joined at dinner by many of the other conference attendees. The church architecture was marvelous. I especially liked the stained glass, and gargoyles depicting Ecuador’s fauna. Turtles, monkeys, and iguanas were included among the animals depicted. The amazing, vivid picture of the torments of Hell (in a no-photo zone) demonstrated the softer side of organized religion, and reminded me of why I’ll continue to give it a pass.

Monkey and jaguar gargoyles on the Basilica.
Unfortunately, the iguanas did not turn out well. They were cool.

Jesus raises LAzarus from the dead.
Stained glass at the Basilica.

On Tuesday the group continued on to Mindo. The road wound out of Quito, through the mountains, down into increasingly lush cloud forest vegetation, and on to the town of Mindo. We crossed the Equator along the way, and stopped briefly at the museum facility there. The museum was interesting enough, however I must confess that I getting out of Quito and beginning to see the wonders of the Ecuadorian tropics that really had my attention at that point.

Doug has his first bi-hemispheric experience.

On the road to Mindo

The formal meeting part of the trip began after lunch on Tuesday. I’m not going to blog about the formal part of the meeting. I suspect that most of my readers will be more interested in the flora and fauna of Ecuador than about topics like international chrysalis pricing structures or the latest on USDA regulations governing butterfly exhibits. Let’s just say that there’s a lot of diverse and interesting things happening in butterfly exhibitions around the world.

Tropical weevil welcomes you to Mindo. Bienvenidos!

On a bloggy note, two conference participants approached me separately about my blog. They had done Google searches trying to get weather forecasts for Mindo. Apparently, Gossamer Tapestry was one of the things that their searches turned up. Hi Cynthia and Wayne!

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At 18:21, Blogger Ur-spo said...

i liked the photo of you going both ways the best.

At 19:42, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Straddling that line, did you feel your blood flow in different directions? :) [Cool pic!]

At 07:56, Blogger Dave Coulter said...

Wow! Jaguar and iguana gargoyles!

At 08:33, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those photographs indeed speak of a great trip ... I love the green in the "Paramo" photo ... and other photos as well...

At 09:40, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back. Wow, that was a great trip,thanks for sharing. The picture of Paramo reminded me a little of the Carrizo Plain in Central California, although Paramo looks a bit steeper. It seems like Asteraceae can be found almost anywhere.

At 11:45, Blogger BentonQuest said...

Thanks for the great pics! Looks like a wonderful place. Is there a lot of tourism there or is it avoided? I guess I never thought of Equador as a tourist destination.

At 16:04, Blogger robin andrea said...

Straddling the hemispheres! Wow, I used to think it was cool when I was going through the Lincoln Tunnel and we passed the line that divided New York and New Jersey. That line you're standing is grander by magnitudes.

I love seeing the lush green on the road to Mindo. Just enough obscure fogginess in the distance to really convey a sense of the unknown. Looks grand!

At 16:45, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gondola reminded me of a huge pet carrier, only the people are the pets. *L*

You trip on the other hand, all I could think was, wow!

Is there more?

At 13:51, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Spo- well, that's something you'll only see in that particular photo.

Lem- Heheh. Actually, the equator museum was at a fairly high elevation. I was mostly feeling the blood throbbiung in my temples about then.

Dave - There were at least a half dozen different species depicted in the gargoyles. The sea turtles were also pretty good.

Jyoti- Thanks. I'm always particularly complimented when another photographer likes my pix.

rcw- The vegetation in the páramo was dominated by bunch grasses. What I have seen of the Carizzo Plain (another spot that I love) has more of a uniform sod.

Ecuador is definitely a tourist destination. It's visited mostly by ecotourism and adventure tourism types. There are lots of local handcrafts marketed to tourists. It was my second trip, and I've loved it both times.

Robin- I chose that picture because I really felt that it captured the overall sense of the area where we were staying.

Heather - I like the idea of going up the mountain in a giant pet carrier. Yes, thgere is more Ecuadorian blogging to come.

At 22:41, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You travel all over the world and discuss conservation, preservation, restoration, demostration ... while people like me, enjoy the brilliant haven ... I again need help with identification. Last time I was there, I saw some very beautiful butterflies ...but need help in identifying them.

btw one of the highlights of the day was seeing the brilliant blue wings of Eryphanis polyxena. It's gorgeous. I managed a few pictures, but will try for a better one.


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