The day before Otavalo Saturday market

Friday, December 16, 2011
Otavalo, Ecuador
Bound for Otavalo where tomorrow is Saturday and it just happens to be the main market day of the week. Trouble being at the beginning of my trip, I don't really want to buy anything.

At least with a very late 11 am departure from Quito, there was no pressure to be on the road so a much needed short sleep in was well received. Just an overnight bag was needed so it is a good practice run for my 2 night overnighter up to Yucay (Sacred Valley) and then to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu) later in the trip.

Left Arupo Hostel at 10.30 am via a minivan for the 45 min trip to northern bus station of Quito. A 20c exit fee had to be paid after exiting the minivan and before boarding the bus. Bizarre.

The next bus left at 11.15 am and we were in for a treat. Being a public bus, it stopped along the road side and waited ... sellers would come on board selling food and drink. A busker armed with guitar even boarded and whether or not we liked it, we had to endure for many kilometres his repertoire. School must have just finished and soon it was over full with school children.

The road from Quito to Otavalo is dominated by the Cayambe volcano with villages dotting the landscape. Sweet corn seem to one of the main crops.

Got to Otavalo at 1.30 pm. Soon aboard 3 taxis for the short journey to Indio Hostel just by the main square. Lunch at the Buena Vista restuarant overlooking the square with the artesian stalls all set up. It looked oh so quiet with hardly any one around.

But today is all about the hike up to Laguna Chicocha which lies within an extinct eroded volcano for the 6 (males) who wanted to do this optional extra US $25 for the afternoon tour. Zulay was our local guide. The actual hike was merely about 200 metres to look down into the crater lake. Light rain did not damper the view. Yes, on a nice day the 4 hour walk around the lake would have been nice. The naivety scene figurines is made of dried and woven agave cactus leaves. The photo was taken at the restaurant overlooking the crater lake.

Then onto Cotocachi, 15 km north of Otavalo, famous for its leatherwork and a 45 minute stop. Being so late and just before dusk at 6 pm, no one was around. No one in the group was really into leather. We had expected seeing leather being crafted but alas not so, merely to go into the shops lining the one main street and small stalls in the market.

Last stop was in Karabuela to see the weaving demonstration. Maria and Hosea Carlos De la Torre showed us the carding, spinning then finally weaving process. A scarf would take 3 weeks to make and the blue poncho worn for special events would take 3 months. The wall hanging that they are holding up between the two of them will probably grace the space above my fireplace. At just US$15, I did not want to haggle. At least I have met the hands who crafted this wonderful piece. Who was not buying so early in the trip?

It was now really dark when we returned to Otavalo at 7.30 pm and a group dinner (pizza for me) with the accompanying live music.
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