Otavalo is a small town about an hour and half North of Quito. It is known for its handicraft market, which on Saturdays is bustling with people. We went on a Tuesday, which is the other day of the week it can get busy. We headed out of Quito, again on a “private” group tour, fairly early in the morning. On the way to Otavalo we stopped in Calderon, which is famous for making ‘bread dolls’, which Ecuadorians use to decorate around All Saints Day. Then we stopped at an equatorial monument. It marks where the equator is and would be the first of several such monuments we would see! We continued on to a little shop outside Otavalo with a lovely view of San Pablo lake.
In Otavalo, we wandered through the market for about an hour. May of the vendors were still setting up their goods, and there were very few people around the market, which was kind of nice. The market itself fills a large central square in Otavalo and probably has a hundred vendors or more. Of course, a lot of the vendors sell the same stuff as the next guy, which is the same stuff they sell in a lot of Andean countries (Bolivia, Peru, etc). We saw a lot of knitted sweaters, hats and gloves, alpaca blankets (we bought one of those), t-shirts, scarves, beaded necklaces, and wooden bowls. It was neat to walk around, but we were both a bit disappointed with the goods for sale. I think we were expecting something a bit different from other markets we’ve visited in South America, considering how well known it was. But it was really the same old stuff as everywhere else. After we finished wandering around the market, we walked through the streets of Otavalo for a bit.
Back in the car, we headed out of Otavalo to the town of Cotacachi, which is known for its leather goods. We wandered around the streets of the town and bought a few things. Dave got a leather jacket for $70! There were some nice leather goods – belts, purses, shoes, etc.
For the final stop of the day we went to Peguche to see the waterfall there. We walked along a trail for about 10 minutes and took a look at the waterfall. There was quite a lot of water because it had been raining a lot recently. We had a picnic lunch in the park while fending off a mangy dog (he didn’t really bother us, he was just curious and hopeful for some food), then headed back to the car and to Quito.