Saturday, June 20, 2009

Haciendas and Andean Markets (Otavalo day 2)

Otavalo features a massive market that spills out of Plaza de Ponchos into the surrounding streets. (Market’s on nearly everyday, but the busiest is Saturday.) I haven't seen this much the colours of the marketcolourful woven items in one place in a long time, if ever.  It's super tight negotiating around/between the stalls and tables of hats, baby sweaters, adult sweaters, ponchos, table cloths, scarves, various grains and maize, jewellery and carvings.  The best thing is that the  sellers are not intrusive at all, allowing you to browse fairly freely. Except that when you leave their table then you get the sales pitch and rapidly falling prices.
We bought, with excellent translating services by Ryan: a "Panama" hat for myself for $11 (decent quality given that you can pay up to $600 for them in their hometown of Montecristi on the coast), 3 alpaca scarves for $10, two little figurine paintings ($10, too much), and Julie bought a nice little pullover poncho/sweater, oh and a bunch of baby sweaters for all those newborns back home.
After running out of money, and depending on Ryan to fund some of the shopping, we left for Cotacachi. Wait, one more stop! We luckily parked near the ice cream place that Ryan had been shown previously but had forgotten where it was. The extremely jolly fat man inside creamtook much pleasure in showing off his homemade ice creams - actually not ice cream, but rather more like gelato as there is no  cream, just frozen fruit puree. They taste fantastic. I had a "copa frisky" that's a large cup, half filled with diced fresh fruit (watermelon, papaya, pineapple, banana) topped with strawberry and vanilla helado, then smothered in thick cream. Perfecto! and it's a $1.35!
Unfortunately due to our tight schedule, we couldn't stick around for the fellow to show us how he makes the stuff using a copper bowl placed into a larger bowl filled with straw and ice. Apparently it's pretty neat to see.
Cotacachi is just north of Otavalo and is known for it's leather goods. The main road through town is lined with shops and shops selling all sorts of leather stuff.
Julie went on a shopping spree, buying two pairs of boots and 2 hand bags. Unfortunately I couldn't find any decent men's shoes since the place seems to cater to women. 

Lunch @ Cafe D'Anita on calle Gonzalez Suarez: nice little restaurant, tasty food, good prices. Recommended by other shoppers and now by us!

We had arrived in Ecuador with US$600 and now we have virtually none left after 4 days. For being in a third-world (supposedly cheap) country, we're sure going through money pretty quick! I'm a bit annoyed at how expensive things are looking. Especially for tours out to the Amazonian jungle or to Galapagos (pushing $1000pp each!). But we just need to do a bit more research, as cheaper options are slowly presenting themselves. The sticker shock of Bermuda isn’t nearly what it is here, mostly due to the psychology of it since we’re expecting low prices here.

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