I did not think about it, my feet simply followed the neatly laid bricks. Winding along to my right, I stored the map in my back pocket. The leaves set within the bricks corresponding to the leaves on the map were meant to guide me along, but I let nature choose my direction.
I wandered through different landscapes of the Jardín Botánico de Quito (Botanical Garden of Quito), following the dirt path through a small forest of snow-white trees that looked more like sticks poking out of the ground. I skipped along the stones through a jungle setting. I admired the cacti in the sandy desert and a section of carnivorous plants. Following the path over a bridge, I meditated on the tiny forest of world class Bonsai trees in a special exhibition before finishing up in the zen garden. A peaceful willow rested next to a pond with the largest hydrangea I had ever seen. The first hint of the moon (which appeared sideways to what I was used to back in Nebraska) floated into the deep blue of the sky.
Many of the trees had lights strung about them for special evening events and I got the sudden urge to stay until they lit up. It was almost like a self-contained world. I could explore every landscape and imagine an adventure to go with it. Even the local birds added to the ambiance.
A pretty large place, I felt like I could have stayed there much longer. This place felt less like a botanical garden and more like the Garden of Eden. A place where there was never meant to be a schedule or outside demands for my attention. A place where, if I never left, I would never age. The fairies and fireflies would come out and it would be something like Neverland or Narnia. A place where nature has not lost its magic and every leaf is full of mystery.
Pro Tip: If you want a souvenir with a little bite, stop by the gift shop and pick up a tiny carnivorous plant of your very own.