Otavalo in Ecuador is home to one of the largest markets in South America . It has to be said it is one of the most enjoyable alfresco retail experiences we have had here.Up for grabs are handicrafts of every description – ceramics, jewellery,paintings, musical instruments, carvings and a dazzling array of weavings and textiles. Otavalenos are known for their exquisite weaving and textile skills, and are the most commercially successful indigena people in Ecuador.
Many looms work across the country-side producing chunky sweaters, hats, gloves, trousers, tablecloths,hammocks, indigenous ponchos, blouses, belts and tapestries all of which can be snapped up on Saturday’s (the main market day). The whole town swells into a sea of bright colours and atmosphere as people hunt for the best bargain,
and oh yes these people love to bargain with you.
The indigena people wear traditional clothing. Women wear white blouses all embroidered with flowers, long wool skirts, woven belts, canvas sandals and strands of beads. Men wear felt hats, blue ponchos, calf-length pants and braid their hair into one long strand.
Both the women and the men look fantastic.
There is also a pet market, oh yes. This is certainly worth a visit for its atmosphere and general chaos. Here you can buy cows, goats, sheep, screaming piglets, dogs, guinea pigs, hens and chickens – day old’s that they sell you in paper bags ! It was fascinating to watch people bargain with each other over the cost of each animal. Once the deal was done it was off to the local food stall to order some chicken or tripe soup which was boiling on portable stove tops, crispy fried fish, or suckling pigs ears. To wash it down chicha – (fermented corn or yuca drink) from plastic buckets. What a brilliant day out,
definitely not to be missed in Ecuador.
While we visited the North of Ecuador, we stayed with Graham. Graham is an Australian dude who now lives near the town of Ibarra and runs his gardening business. He loves for overlanders to come and visit and stay a few days, and he certainly made us feel very welcome there. It was not easy to fire up the Mog and hit the road after a week of Grahams hospitality, but we did manage to uproot ourselves and get to Colombia.