Otavalo Market

Saturday, December 17, 2011
Otavalo, Ecuador
Otavalo (population 22,000) at 2,530 m asl has been a market town well before the Incas over 1,500 years ago.

Don't know why but again only 3 hours sleep and awake at 2 am. By 4 am I could hear outside the stall holders wheeling their stalls and goods in along the cobble stone road. By 5 am it was all on with the rattling of the metal frames that covered their stalls taking shape right under my hostel window. The transformation was nearing completion when we exited at 8 am to walk to the animal market.

Useless information, the picture of the man holding the 2 puppies, we could have had them both for US$1 and a young cow cost US$50.

An hour here then to the fruit and veggie market in the Plaza 24 de Mayo.

Finally to the Plaza de Ponchos (main square) for the artesian stalls which we saw yesterday, the neighbouring streets were also taken over by the stall holders. I had expected to see more tourists but it is low season. Artesanias or crafts: tapestries, blankets, colourful ponchos, hand knitted sheep or alpaca sweaters, patterned scarves, hammocks, carvings, gold washed glass beads, silver and jewellery with Andean jade, painting and Panama hats aplenty.

The Saturday market has livestock sale, produce and the many artesanias wares. Bargain and expect to pay ½ to 2/3 price.

Otavalo men wear their hair long and plaited with broad brimmed hats. White calf length trousers and blue ponchos. Women colourful costumes consist of embroidered blouses, shoulder wraps and many colourful beads. Quechua is their first language.

Was it a good day? Well if I took over 250 photos, then it must have been a good day! As you can tell I love local markets.

Five hours here was more than enough. As I already have my Ecuadorean wall hanging, no need to look for another piece of souvenir from this country. Well I still have the Galapagos and they are part of Ecuador so ...

I have been to various markets throughout the world but his one certainly has to take the cake.

Late breakfast or was it brunch of 2 glasses of fresh fruit juices and an Ecuadorean banana pancake for just US$6 in the Buena Vista Restaurant overlooking the square.

At 1.20 pm and we were on the bus back to Quito.

Less than 2 hours this time for the return journey with less stops and no busker.

Then 6 of us wanted to go to La Mitad del Mundo where the equator line is so at the northern bus station we hired 2 taxis at US$10 each and spent an hour there. In hindsight I should have paid the extra US$3 to go inside the building with the few crazy experiments. As it was drizzling, cold and clouded over, it was no use to go inside to look at the view from the top of the building and no one wanted to go after having to pay an extra US $2 for the taxi just to enter the carpark, then $2 admission fee .... The main thing I wanted was my photo graph of me straddling the equator line.

The 2 taxi drivers waited for over the hour while we there and we pay them US$20 each for the 45 min trip back to the hostal.

Tonight’s lovely dinner at the Achiote Restaurant right across from the hostal consisted of an appetizer of a local "Bolones de verde" = delicate green plantain cakes filled with beef, chicken or cheese and the mains was blue marlin with a soft “uvilla” sauce, crispy fried yuccas and a salad. This with a ½ litre local Pilsener set me back US$13.56 after the 22% of service and IVA taxes have been added.

Yes, a lot of photos, but this is also one of my web back up.
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