If you go to Otavalo…

Many visitors to Ecuador make the trip up to the market town of Otavalo as a day trip. Otavalo is home to the famous, and largest, indigenous market in South America. We were told that many tourists opt to take the “day excursion,” paying $50 to catch the bus in Quito in the early morning and returning again that night. We have a suggestion to make: take your time, save some money, and enjoy what Otavalo has to offer.

From Quito, we took a taxi up to the Terminal Carcelen (northern) bus station and bought tickets for the bus to Otavalo for less than US $3 each. Even though many buses depart each hour, we were surprised to be guided to a bus that took off within 5 minutes. We sat on the right side for good views, sat back, and relaxed. Between watching the scenery and a Robert deNiro movie, “The Intern” in Spanish, we were totally entertained.

We traveled with old friends, Jo and Louise, and the four of us had decided to stay in Otavalo for 3 days, going against the common advice of limiting the trip to just one day.

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We relaxed, walked around town, spent the better part of one day browsing at the market and people-watching.

Our second day we headed up to a nearby village of Agato to visit Miguel Andrango, one of the best weavers in Ecuador.  A scenic country road took us to the Peguche waterfall, where we had lunch at a simple cafe before heading down to Otavalo.

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The next day was our return bus ride back to Quito, and we couldn’t resist taking photos of the mountain scenes glimpsed fleetingly through the bus window.

I heard someone on the bus refer to these scenes as Alpen, and it did look like the foothills of the Alps, but the correct term would be Andean.

I heard someone on the bus refer to these scenes as Alpen, and it did look like the foothills of the Alps, but the correct term would be Andean.

We took the Pan-American Highway which only passed through a few small towns, and our curiosity was piqued by life in a small town.

We took the Pan-American Highway which only passed through a few small towns, and our curiosity was piqued by life in a small town.

The bus stopped at a light, and we watched as a construction worker emerge from a manhole cover on a sidewalk. That was unexpected!

The bus stopped at a light, and we watched as a construction worker emerge from a manhole cover on a sidewalk. That was unexpected!

A street vendor came on the bus long enough to sell his snack foods. When finished, he hopped off the bus and disappeared from our view as the bus sped away.

A street vendor came on the bus long enough to sell his snack foods. When finished, he hopped off the bus and disappeared from our view as the bus sped away.

When we saw the vast expanse of gray for the first time on distant hills we imagined it was strip mining. After a closer look we realized that unstable hillsides were covered in concrete.  

When we saw the vast expanse of gray for the first time on distant hills we imagined it was strip mining. After a closer look we realized that unstable hillsides were covered in concrete.

We enjoyed our 3-day excursion to Otavalo but for a different reason than most people who make the trip. While we enjoyed the indigenous market and making deals for gifts to take home, it paled in comparison to the other delights of the trip that were totally unexpected. And that’s what we always hope for in our travels.

(For more about Otavalo, see our previous posts: “The highpoint of our trip to Otavalo” and “A Sunday stroll from Agato to Otavalo”)

 

June 2016

 

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Ecuador, South America - 2016 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to If you go to Otavalo…

  1. Those outdoor scenes are so mystical. I’m glad you took your time 🙂

  2. I’m really enjoying your posts on Otavalo! I’m going to be spending a week there learning Spanish intensively, and your posts are making me even more excited. I’d love to visit Miguel as well if I have time 🙂

  3. It always pays to stay longer. You would have missed all that marvellous scenery if you’d been in a hurry. We like to travel this way too.

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