Sunday, October 30, 2011

For Once, We're Tall

Outside our hostal door looking at Volcan Pichincha

We made our first day trip outside of Quito on Saturday to the small town of Otavalo. Our journey started with a 2 hour bus ride from Quito, heading north. This was also our first bus ride of any distance. Luckily for us, the bus driver played all of the hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s (in Spanish of course) on the radio. We were jamming the whole way. As we left the city, the landscape changed quickly. Houses stacked on top of houses quickly gave way to rolling green hills and very small villages with roaming pigs, cows, chickens, and dogs. It is so amazing to be in a place where you are never out of sight of at least one volcano. On this trip to Otavalo we saw Volcan Imbabura, Volcan Cayambe, and Volcan Cotacachi. They have such a looming presence over the small green villages. It is an incredible sight.

Volcan Cayambe (looming in the clouds) 

Volcan Imbabura

Once in Otavalo, we made our way from the crazy bus station to the even crazier Saturday market where local,  indigenous Otavalos (very short folks) sell beautiful hand woven goods. The main plaza in Otavalo, Plaza de Ponchos, is filled with brightly colored scarves, belts, hammocks, sweaters, and tapestries. There are so many things to look at it is dizzying. After an hour or so of aimless wandering, we decided to sit for lunch and let our minds settle. We went back for round two after lunch and settled on a belt for Mags and hooded sweater for myself. The sweater is awesome, but the elderly Otavalo who made it felt like a kindred spirit. He had the biggest, happiest smile I'd seen in quite a while. I did my best to chat with him in Spanish, but he only spoke Chechua (the language spoken by most indigenous populations in the Andes). We settled for a handshake (he shook Mag's hand too) and a big, shared smile.

Plaza de Ponchos, Otavalo

We ran into two of our friends from Spanish school at the market and decided to meet up with them at a nearby waterfall, Peguche. A five minute taxi ride dropped us in a green space that felt miles from the hectic market at the Plaza. A short hike down a cobblestone path led us into a lush forest surrounding the falls (complete with a suspension bridge). We hung at the falls with our friends Inga and Nikki, from Holland and Belgium, and soaked in as much fresh air as we could. It felt so great to be in nature, even if for a short time.

Peguche Falls 

Suspense before suspension

We made our way back to the city, both exhausted from the long days travel and excited about the adventures ahead.

All smiles in Otavalo

GIN-A-THON: Ecuador
Current Standings: Travis 1090. Maggie 1445. 


  1. What is this gin-a-thon and why are the scores so high?!

  2. new belt & new sweater, good times! no thanks on the bridge though :)

  3. love the market shot. pics of belt and sweater to come? and meeg, any of the volcanoes remind you of PACAYA?


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