Otavalo, Ecuador

Traditionally dressed women doing their weekly shop

Traditionally dressed women doing their weekly shop

We arrived in Otavalo after a $3 (USD is the Ecuadorian currency) 4 hour bus trip from Tulcan, a nondescript border town. The roads were very good and our first Ecuadorian driver didn’t plough along at warp speed which was a nice change. We were however dropped off on the highway quite far from the main town; we had read that this was walkable but there’s no way – it would have taken a good 45 minutes (and with backpacks; eh, no) so we took a $1 taxi to the town centre. We hopped out of the taxi and immediately met a lovely girl (also travelling) who told us about the place she was staying at; Samana Hostel, which had a hot shower AND some English TV channels. Promptly made our way there…

As we arrived in the late afternoon the market was packing up (Otavalo has a world famous market which is open every day but the stalls multiply for the influx of tourists on Saturdays). We had a little potter about the town to get our bearings and stopped for a light crepe lunch in Deli cafe and a walk to check out the pretty main plaza and a couple of churches. We stopped off at a lovely cafe called La Cosecha in the evening and found the BEST hot chocolate in the universe (well, after Butlers Irish Chocolate of course). Huge mug, piping hot with a little spice – so Christmassy! In my element. Oh, AND turkey and brie paninis thank you very much. Delicious spot run by an American chap and his lovely Ecuadorian wife. Needless to say it was visited on a number of occasions. Otavalo is a very friendly town; we were walking back from the supermarket in the evening and there was a street entertainer with a huge crowd around him decided to get us gringos into a Spanish conversation…John was just like si si si to everything he said. He may have sold his soul…

On Saturday we hit the market after an only ok breakfast in Buena Vista cafe but it overlooked the market so we could plan our attack. The market was pretty much the same thing over and over; Panama hats, alpaca wool jumpers, scarves, blankets, keyrings, jewellery, teddy llamas, Ecuador bags; plenty of handicrafts in other words. We went to the locals food market too which is just up from the main market; plenty of roasting pigs on spits and the usual colours and smells of a food market. There’s also an animal market in the morning about 6am but I’m not one for seeing animals couped up so we skipped that. Plus there was the whole 6am issue. I bought two awesome scarves (I have it on good authority that the scarves sell from between $8 and $15 each – I got both for $19 and one of them is ginormous).

Local Otavalenos

Local Otavalenos

Otavalo Graffiti

Otavalo Graffiti

The Food Market

The Food Market

More of the Food Market

More of the Food Market

San Luis Church

San Luis Church

What to buy...

What to buy…

So much colour

So much colour

El Jordan Church

El Jordan Church

La Cosecha Hot Chocolate - yum!

La Cosecha Hot Chocolate – yum!

John testing out the Panama hat

John testing out the Panama hat

Our hotel was only 2 blocks from the bus station so on Sunday morning we hopped on a Quito-bound bus for the 2.5 hour, $2 bus to Quito. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet but you do not have to eat before getting on a bus in South America – there’s always people hopping on selling food – ice-cream, plantain chips (like a banana but sweeter – in crisp format – yum), fruit and the like. Overall we really enjoyed Otavalo and I’d definitely go back to purchase blankets and the like if I wasn’t on a backpackers baggage allowance 🙂

Next stop: Quito and Mitad del Mundo.

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2 thoughts on “Otavalo, Ecuador

  1. Pingback: South American Street Art | La Vie by C

  2. Pingback: Essentials – Packing List for South America | La Vie by C

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