The famous Saturday Otavalo Market draws people from all around the highlands and is also a major tour bus destination (we were not
on a tourist bus but we were definitely tourists). Gawking foreigners mingle with and are pretty much tolerated or ignored by the
Otavalans and other Ecuadorians--except by the venders selling wares tourists like. As expected, the market is very colorful with all
kinds of artisan work--jewelry, woven goods, musical instruments--as well as a vast variety of other native articles. We bought several
things for Casey's friends and gifts for family and friends. There are sections for produce, beans, chickens, spices and lots of other foods
as well as more sidewalk kitchens. We were able to get a good sense of the people of this area. This is clearly for the local people in spite
of the influx of tourists.
Typical Otavalan Dress
Otavalo Fast Food Stop
Casey buying Shrek 2. Watched it at least 200 times! Sanity for us.
A long day with mom at the market
"Otavalians are actually quite
financially stable--even wealthy
by Ecuadorian standards. It is a
rich area as the Indians here
have been smart in marketing
and developing  their
merchandising and practices.
Many of them travel abroad 3-4
times a year and many have
relatives now living in
countries--particularly Spain. It
is apparent from just watching
Village Parade
At the market
Sign Guestbook View Guestbook
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China, Italy, Tanzania, Peru, Spain, France Travel with Children

Ecuador Coat of Arms
Ecuadorian Flag
Rituals of life in Otavalo
Faces of
Saturday in
e to
time of
the people that they are more affluent than people we have seen in other areas. They hold themselves differently, their body language and
facial expressions communicate confidence and assertiveness. Of course, there are still many people who clearly are not affluent and who
live in poverty and need. Particularly in the food section it was easy to see that people there were not financially comfortable." Again from
my journal
Wood Carvers Shop
Next on the tourist's route is Cotacachi, the leather village. It is a place where you feel
compelled to buy-particularly the quite beautiful jackets. But--in memorable fashion,
we resisted except for a couple of purses for gifts and a really nice belt for Ken.
And--now being home, we don't experience that sometimes regret of not having
purchased something whose opportunity won't come again. Two other artisan type
detours to take are to weaving and wood carving villages. We did both but did not find
them as interesting as expected; although, we did pick up some small items. At the
store pictured here, we bought two figures of a couple in native dress and I must admit
they give me pleasure and memories as they grace the top of our piano.  The best part
of this excursion was seeing the countryside and increasing our visual understanding of
this part of Ecuador.  This included a hike up to a lovely waterfall set in one of the
countries ecological reserves.
Sometimes when traveling you experience the mystery of  being in the right place at
the right time --like being in one of the many sultans' palaces in Istanbul, having a 10
minute conversation with a very congenial man who we later learned was the prime
minister of Turkey and who left us a gift of state china at the door.  Anyway, on a
lesser note, on our way back to the Hacienda, we found ourselves behind a local village
parade celebrating San Juan. There were several components to the parade--one being
a group carrying chickens in their arms, circling to the beat of the drummer, little
back and forward steps. They were all wearing masks of different kinds. Then there
was a musical group with drums and horns. "It was so colorful and the people were
enjoying themselves so much." It took a while for Miguel, our driver, to maneuver by
the festivity so we were just a part of it for awhile with Casey waving and be waved at.
A final treat for us--one that was exquisitely enjoyable and yet underscored the disparity between the affluence of travelers and the life of
the people--was lunch at La Mirage (which really was one) a Relaix and Chateaux property. As to be expected, this was elegance
personified--serene, refined, beautiful. Our table sat in a glass alcove where we watched peacocks stroll the flower laden gardens. Service
was by young Indian women wearing exquisitely embroidered native dress. "I was reminded of geisha women in the poise and gentleness
of the way they waited on us. Sometimes it was almost like a ballet. In synchronized motion, beautifully carved wooden music boxes with
elegant tassles were set in front of each of us. When the boxes were opened in unity by the servers, music played and artisically presented,
wonderfully delicious small appetizers  were set inside. This was a charming, magical moment bringing wide eyes and awe to Casey's face.