Out and About in OtavaloMarch 24 in Ecuador
We travelled two hours by bus from Quito to Otavalo in the north of Ecuador. Otavalo, while only a small town of about 40,000 people, is famous for its Saturday market, which seems to cover most of the centre of the town. We got to Otavalo and quickly set out to explore the stalls that lined the streets. Stalls selling jewellery, ponchos, shrunken heads and much more filled every available space. It was impossible to see everything in the one day. But what was possible was running into a Canadian couple, Pierre and Gita, who we had meet in a hotel in Huanchaco (and ran into in Baños and the Galápagos Islands). Now we were all staying at the same hostel again. It seems this (small) world, at least Latin America, has been overrun by travelling Canadians oot and aboot in search of warmer climates.
While the Canadian's tried to avoid the cold Canadian winter, we continued in our search for the world's greatest pastry (or was that the greatest ice-cream or dessert). It seemed we couldn't go from one corner to the next without testing the local produce. The fruit salad laden with cream and cream-cheese was justified because, hey, there's fruit in it. At one point, Jason became possessed by one of the Real Housewives of Melbourne, Lydia, and kept telling Ricky that if he wanted to gorge himself he would and if he wanted to go on a diet he would. The latter is inevitable.
The next day, we were awakened by the chiming of church bells and a procession of people filing into the church carrying cuttings from their crops. We stood outside looking on as most people adorned themselves in traditional costume. Most women wore white embroidered blouses with laced sleeves teamed with a dark coloured skirt and matching bands around their waist and hair. Many of the women also wore gold beaded necklaces, with the number of necklaces and size of the beads indicating age and wisdom. Men, on the hand, wore white pants with a blue poncho. One of the processions (yes, there were many throughout the day) included a re-enactment of Jesus on a donkey and people chanting in the background. For two atheists, it was a fascinating ritual to witness before heading to our next destination.
Next stop: Ibarra
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