This last weekend I had the opportunity to go to Otavalo, home to one of the largest indigenous markets in Latin America. The entire Oregon group went with Franco, our on-site program coordinator. First we went to the market. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring money to buy stuff. Fortunately, my friends lent me money. Probably wasn’t bad because it prevented me from spending too much money. I ended up with an alpaca wool blanket, a belt, and a little coin bag. After the market, we had lunch at a restaurant that served us American style french fries as part of our meal. Ecuadorian french fries are good, but not quite as good as American style fries.
The next stop was a workshop that makes Andean instruments. They make an incredible number of different wind instruments, and a few string instruments. We got the chance to hear a song by a group that is supposedly famous outside of Ecuador and then try playing the instruments. I wasn’t good at playing them but enjoyed the attempt.
Almost our entire group decided to stay the night rather than returning back to Quito same-day. We chose a hostel in a small village called Araque. I’m very glad we chose to go there. We got to have a taste of what a rural community in Ecuador looked like. It was relaxing, which was exactly what the doctor ordered. The community was located on Lago San Pablo, close to Otavalo. We were able to enjoy the sunset before going to dinner with the owner of the hostel, Patricio. He was super friendly and a great host, probably making the experience. The restaurant served fantastic, large meals for $3.75. I ordered fritada (fried pork) with tortilla de papa (potato cakes), two different types of corn (one soft, called mote, and another a crunch snack), and fried banana. It was really good! I didn’t end up getting much sleep on Friday night, so I decided to turn in early.
The next day we had breakfast at the hostel and went to Laguna Cuicocha, on a private bus that we were able to hire. It was a beautiful mountain lake that looked kind of like Crater Lake for all of you Oregon folks out there. We hiked about halfway around the rim, summiting one of the highest points, before heading back to Otavalo. We had pizza for lunch and then decided to head back home.