Otavalo day 2, markets markets markets… and an unsuccessful but then successful adventure

I’m in the same place as yesterday, but my location has changed. All I did was go downstairs where the Internet connection is stronger.

My sleep was disturbed by 2-4 Germans most of the night then early morning too. However, I notice that their rooms are now vacant so I have high hopes for tonight. It would be nice not to have to use my earplugs.

The bed was comfy, the room seemed warmer, and we started the day with coffee from the excellent corner coffee bar, then yellow oliebollen (like doughnuts) called chulenos from one of the street vendors. It was 09:00 and the market was in full swing.

The center of the market is Plaza de Ponchos, but on Saturday it grows to encompass most of the center. I wanted to see the animal market first, though, so we headed slightly out of town, across a bridge and a busy road where I was nearly hit by a bus. Matt was angry at me, because I had been poorly estimating space in walking beside the road to get to the crosswalk.

At the market we saw all kinds of animals being sold: guinea pigs (cuy, a popular dish), rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigs, sheep, cattle, llamas, cats and dogs. I’m pretty sure the cats and dogs were not for eating, but I haven’t seen such young ones for a long time. Against our travel doctor’s recommendations, I couldn’t resist petting some tiny kittens. (Apparently rabies is very common here, and we were warned that we were taking a risk even touching pets.)

In other areas of the Ecuadorian Andes, we have seen lots of people wearing partial or full traditional dress. Most of them were older and rural. Here in Otavalo, however, we see lots of young people, especially women, wearing traditional dress of this area. You can see it a bit in the woman to the right of this picture, a dark ankle-length wrap-around skirt, white embroidered blouse, colorful cinched wrap-belt, and various shawls that change purpose at different points of the day, becoming hats and sun-visors, as well as scarves and shawls and capes. The weather here in a single day goes from mild to hot to mild to chilly very quickly. The young lady in the left of the picture is doing something I also saw pretty often, mixing traditional and modern clothes. In her case, I think she may have been wearing a blanket as a skirt. I never saw anyone else draped in check.

After the animal market, we walked through the produce area to buy some fruit to continue our breakfast. The limes here are the size of softballs!!

Back in the full market, Matt was very successful with his shopping, buying another hat, and all kinds of other things. This market is gorgeously colorful, and vendors do try to engage you, but in a very relaxed manner usually. It’s not very pushy, and haggling is relaxed. However, with so much choice and variety, I was struggling to decide. I was too overwhelmed even to ask prices to start getting an idea what I wanted and how much was reasonable to pay.

We came up with a solution: beer! It was just noon, and I enjoyed a beer and guacamole while Matt had some more coffee and one soup. A light buzz makes it easier to focus on one thing at a time, and to ask about things even without buying. I had my shopping successes after that, then we took a break back at the hostal.

At 15:45 we decided that if we hurried, we could make it up to the Parque de Condor in time for the 16:30 raptor show, and see El Lechero, the healing tree, on the way back down. We went out, picked up some rolls, and hopped in a taxi. Here is a view of Lago San Pablo as we went up. Gorgeous here!

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the Lonely Planet guide, the time of the raptor show had been changed to 15:30, and we had missed it. On their way out, however, were a couple we’d run into while shopping in the market. We walked the 5km back to town with them, which was a really beautiful downhill walk, challenging anyway due to the rocky terrain. We meant to stop at El Lechero on the way, but we missed the turnoff. We’ll be back tomorrow anyway for the show, so we can catch it then.

At a line between two fields, an open truck was dropping off hordes of helmeted teenagers who raced down the hill between the fields at breakneck speed on their mountain bikes. It looked like a lot of fun.

When we finally reached town, we were all pretty hungry, so at my suggestion, we tried out an organic cafe near Plaza de Ponchos. It had a nice ambience, but the food was only acceptable, not some of the better that we’ve had. The company was good, though, and we had beer, so who’s complaining?

After dinner we were beat. We walked over to the Ingress portal Matt’s been hacking, hacked it again, then went back to the hotel. We passed a very cool-looking bar called Faun, but we were too tired and didn’t really want any more to drink.

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Location:Pan American Hwy,Otavalo,Ecuador