When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home. ~ Rumi

Ecuador’s Andes:  Eastern Slope – Cosanga – Western Slope -Mindo — Having just returned from a ten-day trip to the eastern side of Ecuador, I chuckled when I read Judy Edwards Thought For the Day, shared above.

My friend Susana had often mentioned their ‘little cabaña’ tucked in a quiet area somewhere on the ‘Eastern Slope” of the Andes in the Napo Province, gateway to the Amazon.  Over the past year, she’s been fine-tuning details for a birding tour for a group of ladies from the USA and had asked if I’d help during their time at their Cabana El Aliso.  The tour would start on March 1st in Quito, end on March 10th in Mindo, with lots of great experiences in between.

Cosanga area landscape

Of course!  I would love to help!  I looked forward to seeing their cabaña and the surrounding landscape, but first needed to take care of my life on the Pacific side.  While in Jama, I received an email from Susana regarding plans for the week before the birding tour.

“…hopefully we can travel to la Cabaña El Aliso. How about Friday, Feb. 24th? This weekend (25-28) is Carnaval and I would like to spend these days in the Cabaña. Can you come with us.”  –

Between Baeza and Cosanga

I traveled from the coast to Mindo on the 22nd, unpacked boxes from Casa Loca on the 23rd, repacked and left for El Aliso on the 24th!  We drove from Quito past the Papallacta Thermal Springs area, to Baeza and on to Cosanga.  Their property is about 15 more kilometers from Cosanga along a less-traveled gravel road.   When we pulled into the parking area of their ‘little cabaña,’ I smirked.   “That’s not quite what I expected!”

Their cabaña is part of an 80-hectare property which has trails, rivers and even a small blackberry patch!  There were birds I’d never seen before, so settling in was a joyful sensory overload!

Susana and Marco at their El Aliso property.

Two couples – neighbors of Susana and Marco – joined us for the relaxed Carnival weekend at El Aliso.  Marco took us for an end-of-day stroll along one of the well-tended trails which immersed us in a living stage of primal growth.


The last hour of the day provided dramatic effects on the darkening forest.

Name that Bird! — Birds of Ecuador

The next day we walked a short distance to the river, which borders the western end of their property.

Posing at the caretaker’s house!

Easy Trek to the River

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener

Daniel and Veronica live the the petite caretaker’s house. Their three sons range from 8 years to six months.

Meet Jordan, age 4…

And here dashes Rudy, age 8…

Susana, Veronica and Jordan walk between the community greenhouse and the property.  Note that Veronica uses a ‘hands-free’ bag.


Rudy sizes up the gringa who stepped onto a page of his storybook life!

Veronica showed us the steps for making ‘maita,’ a seasoned trout wrapped in specia leaves and then smoked on coals or baked in an oven.

Between tasks, I visited with Rudy, Jordan and their cousin…

He stole my heart!

After the long holiday weekend, we had a two-day break before the Pachamama Birdwatchers Journey began.  What a great group of women! That story – and others – will follow soon.

The Pachamama Birdwatchers Tour with guide and driver…

Thanks to all of you who left such beautiful comments in the last post about Marcos Cevallos.  I will be answering your comments soon.

Friends wrote to say that President Correa made another visit to Jama and spoke with the locals, including Marcos. Hopefully there will be relief for those who remain in limbo.

In a five-week period, I was home only two nights; I am writing from home base of Mindo during another short break before the tour group arrives tomorrow.  I’d best rest while I can!

More soon!  Z

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang