Squealing pigs to bits of rope!

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Thursday, October 19, 2006

Up at 3.30am which is not easy having had a restless nights sleep thanks to a concert or something going on on the square until about 1am. Do people not need sleep here or something??

Anyway we get to the bus terminal and despite there being noone else around and the fact we were clearly walking for the bus (why else would you have a rucksack on your back and be up at 3.45?) the conductor proceeded to do the usual shouts of "A Quito, A Quito, A Quito) as is customary in these parts. Obviously this marketing strategy worked on us and we dumped our bags before one last look to see if there is any activity and there is none so we are on our way! 1 1/2 hours later we are in Latacunga - earlier than planned and earlier than we would have been if we had stayed here. Tungurahua volcano with a bit of smoke coming out now on one side and the even more dominant cone shaped of Cotopaxi on the other. Fantastic in the morning light.

Walk to the main square and get book into Central Hostel with a nice view of the plaza, hope its not noisy though! Hand in some laundry and are out to the bus stop to get a bus to Saquisli. We are with all the locals and their porkpie hats and produce to sell. 20 mins later are at our destination - are getting used to short bus rides now!
Main plaza is quite busy for about 6.30am and we find the first part of the market with its mini restaurants, fruit and veg stalls and we seem to be here a bit too early as many are just setting up. Dave gets some great photos of truck loads of bananas, fresh peppers which we pay a fortune for back home and the locals, some of whom are wise to us and ask for payment. We head back to the plaza and buy some pain au chocolat from a bakery and sit in the sun for a bit and then walk up the animal market further out of town. 95% of the markets here (which are apparently the most economically important in Ecuador) are for locals and not tourists, unlike Otavalo (although we liked that a lot too but our fave is still Bac Ha in Vietnam near Sapa). We manage to find the animal market by watching where the pigs are coming from! We walk to this biggish area and hear squeals, baahs, moos from everywhere plus what sounds like auctioning going on. We walk around the outside or should I saw through the fray of people and animals trying not to get trodden on. One side people are selling live animals from llamas to massive pigs (and I mean massive) tied with rope and they are all trying to run off. Am sure we are annoying all the locals by taking photos and not buying anything. I ask a lady how much the biggest pig we could see was. It was $300! No idea if thats good value or not as havent tried to buy a pig before (Dave made me delete my next comment). Although we obviously bought a sheep in Peru. So who knows one day?

Round the other side there are huge bundles of grasses and wheat etc being sold and then elsewhere more animals. We were disappointed not to see guineapigs being sold, their delicacy here, esp if they had bred really big ones but never mind!

Back into town we stumbled on other markets from the touristy weaving and handicraft ones (much cheaper in Otavalo) to carboot type stalls and then a whole row of different colour and width ropes and people looking very intently at them before they buy. Obviously a serious business.

A row of men with old sewing machines which we took advantage of to sew up gloves and coats etc that needed doing properly. Past more sellers we buy sunglasses (including some v chic and large fake Chanel ones for me) and get back to the main market that we started at. This is now heaving with people buying and selling and is too much effort to walk through. We pass a food stall which Dave notices smells good and end up trying a maize and cheese tortilla which is freshly deep fried (yes healthy eating is not going well!) and is delicious. Have to have a few of them with some lovely onion sauce and sit having a basic conversation with a couple of old locals on plastic tables and chairs. Think people think its good we are eating local food (little do they know we eat everything).

Back to the bus terminal we go back to Latacunga before 9am and notice the massive queue for the bank. Debating whether to get a tour to Laguna Quilotoa or a taxi as expensive............ or just do something else completely different!
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Where I stayed
Central Hostel
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