Saturday, March 20, 2010


Last night after blogging i went back to La Ronda. The street was even livelier last night. There were street musicians and performers and all of the restaurants and bars were filling with happy people. In the doorways women had skillets of unidentifiable meat and fish and bubbling cauldrons from which they were ladling cups of soup and hot drinks. (Really, they were proper cauldrons.) I had a glass of hot blackberry juice (which was sweet and tart and tasty) and I walked in the crowd. There didn´t seem to be many tourists there. It is only two blocks, but it is a great place to spend an evening.

Two little girls, about 5 years old walked around selling cigarettes from wicker baskets.  It is amazing, all of the children who are out at night by themselves, working. Some of them seem very happy, but others look so tired and and sad. I saw a very little boy carrying a bag of potatos that was almost as big as he was. It is kind of tragic, really.

It is interesting, a number of people here have told me that the historic centre, where my hotel is, is dangerous after dark, but I have had the opposite experience. At night the streets are busy, with people and traffic everywhere. At no time did i feel even slightly uneasy. 

This morning i left my hotel at 6am and took a taxi to the bus station north of town. From there i caught a bus to Otavalo. The ride was about 2.5 hours and cost $2. At first the bus wound through dry-looking mountains, but they soon gave way to lush farmlands surrounded by towering green mountains, the tops of which were obscured by mist.
I reached Otavalo and proceeded to make my way to the market - supposedly the largest in south america.  

It is fantastic! There is an animal market where they sell pigs and cows and chickens and then there is the other market where they sell everything. Blocks and blocks of arts, crafts, hats, clothing, spices, fresh produce, an endless assortment of legumes and corn, and many stalls selling an array of food. There were at least a dozen enormous roasted pigs. Strolling vendors sold more food. I had a huge slice of watermelon and a small bag of mixed beans in a salsa type sauce. The prices for everything were reasonable, but bargaining is mandatory.
Market at Otavalo
I must admit, i bought a lot of stuff; almost none of it for me. In fact i had to buy another bag to put all of purchases in.
me at the market
I caught the bus back from Otavalo and then had dinner and a cigar on the plaza infront of the San Francisco monastery. Now i am back at the hotel and i am in for the evening. My flight to Houston is at 6-30 tomorrow morning. I have a long layover in Houston and i plan to go into the city, so i may blog about that if the mood strikes me.
Oh, a word about cigars. I brought some with me, enough for one a day, and i am glad i did, because i have seen only one cigar store here. It sold only Cubans and the prices were at least as high as in Canada, so i didn´t buy any.
So, that´s about it for Ecuador. It has been a marvellous trip. I must return someday and visit the Galapagos, but that is another trip for another time.
Buenas noches.

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