It is impossible to visit Ecuador without also visiting the indigenous markets at Otavalo. Every Saturday, without fail, the streets are filled with indigenous men and women selling every article of clothing and fruit imaginable. Shouts of “amiga, compra esa” “chica, chica” “agua de coco, agua de coco” can be heard throughout the streets. The colors of the textiles were all so vibrant, in hues of reds, yellows, greens and blues; I wanted to buy everything I set my eyes on. There was also fruit spread all across the tables: guanabana, plantain, grapes, naranja, maracuya, piña, mangos, coconuts…you name it and it was at the market. I was told that at the market you can barter for a lower price and I quickly had to learn the technique if I wanted the best deal for what I was getting.
By the end of our time at the market I had the softest pair of alpaca socks (they are actually made out of alpaca wool and have little alpacas knitted on to them), 5 woven headbands, a pair of ‘tropical pants’ (loose pants that are woven with different colors), and a beautifully hand painted wooden bowl with flowers and swirls, all for under $30! My friends and I were all also able to find string bracelets in the colors of the Ecuadorian flag – red, yellow and blue.
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The highlands around Otavalo are known for their bizcochos. Bizcochos are similar to biscottis but are warm and served with Dulce de Leche (which is similar to caramel but sweeter). We stopped for breakfast at a restaurant that served bizcochos, eggs, fruit juice, hot chocolate and tea all for just $2 a person. During our breakfast we were serenaded by a group of men who played traditional indigenous music for us. During our day trip to Otavalo we also traveled to Las Cascades and Lago Cuicocha, where we got a chance to explore. Las Casadas and the Lago Cuicocha were absolutely breathtaking, and when the clouds lifted we were able to see for miles.
Well that’s all I have for now, I’m off to the coast of Ecuador until next Tuesday with my Techniques of Marine Research Class!