The Bee Hive Mindo – Finding Common Ground on the Road

Bee Hive, sign

Around every corner when traveling in Ecuador is a new set of directions to master, another word to remember and decisions which aren’t typically answered online.  Whether on the road for the first or fortieth time, it’s refreshing to find others who are on similar journeys, and the places that help navigate the space between the points on the map.

This is the first post in another weekly series that is about the travelers’ hubs and the people who, for reasons not always clear, have become their stewards.

Mindo is a sleepy town at heart with some tendencies to forget about the details.  Some streets aren’t named on the map and  addresses consist of the name of the business or house.  It’s an easy bus ride a few hours to the north of Quito into lush cloud forest and a noticeable change in altitude and attitude.

After turning off the highway and a short drive to the town, buses clatter over a small bridge onto the main street.  Representatives from some of the outlying hostals jockey for clients at the bus station and sign boards line the main street with offers for canopy tours, climbing lodges and bird guides.  It’s small town living which is off the beaten track but driven by tourism.

Many tour companies in Quito offer day trips to the region and the area’s native population of over 470 species of birds attract visitors from across the globe.  The town is quiet during the week but fills up on weekends.  Rafting the Mindo river, flying through the tree tops on canopy tours, trying out the new climbing wall at Pura Vida Climbing Lodge  or relaxing by the pool are worth a few days here.  Both expats and travelers can be spotted walking the streets in search of good food and kindred spirits until the town closes up shop early in the evening.

The Bee Hive arrived quietly last year to the small collection of local shops and restaurants but has made a big noise on the travelers’ scene in Mindo.  The warm cafe just after the bridge brings a slice of home to the trip with good company, sweet and savory snacks and smorgasbords, homemade jams, locally grown coffee, cold beer and yep, you guessed it,  honey!

Bee Hive insideBee Hive, Inside2

 

The owners, Ingo and Genny take hospitality seriously.  This means talking to every customer, often at length, while putting food in their bellies and smiles on their faces.  Ingo is a helpful soul from Germany standing nearly 7 feet tall, with stories to tell and homemade schnapps fermenting on the counter.  Genny is from Ecuador and along with their growing family moved to the Mindo valley a few years ago after deciding to leave Quito for a change.  Around the shop, hand picked Ecuadorian crafts line the shelves alongside locally made chocolate and homemade bottles of honey wine.

After months of working full days at the cafe and running a farm a few clicks out of town, business is good and Ingo and Genny have opened a new spot near the park.   Aptly named the Humming Bagel, it serves inviting sandwiches and snacks as well as the same coffee and sweets that have people raving on TripAdvisor about the Bee Hive.

The food is great at both places and fills a gap that the handful of other worthy restaurants in town couldn’t manage – quality food at fair prices.  Beyond the creature comforts and steaming cups of coffee is the hospitality at the crossroads in people’s travels.  A spark from the combination of Ingo’s lust for life and Gennie’s joie de vivre  does justice to any trip through the front door.

Bee Hive FoodBee Hive, deck

 

 

Inside, the Bee Hive is alive with activity.  People come in to get out of the rain and end up staying til close and returning the next day.  Information is passed along over the counter as well as from table to table.  Guest’s are treated like family friends and  in turn act so towards each other.   On a recent visit, two musicians came in as a mutual friend recommended it to them in Quito.  The next night they were playing in the main room to a fun loving audience!

For the in the know traveller in Ecuador, these are the spots worth seeking out.  Ideas and advice from locals as well as those on the road gives an advantage worth taking, providing the kind of information that doesn’t appear on travel forums.   Ingo also takes interested guests on a bee tour to check on his hives on a nearby coffee plantation as well as to visit the farm.

If you travel to Mindo, the Bee Hive and sister restaurant the Humming Bagel are the places to find good food, fantastic fun and up to date information.  Check them out on Facebook here.

 

 

 

 

 

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