A Chirstmas Parade

Trip Start Oct 16, 2012
Trip End Apr 20, 2013

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Friday, December 7, 2012

When we got on the road in the morning, we were pleased to see that the wind had died down, as it had been really strong throughout the evening before and during the night. Now the town was back to being a quiet, ghost town again. The hotel owner had told us that he worked in the oil field in the rainforest of Ecuador, which involved being flown to work for 14 days on and then he had 14 days off to spend at home. From what we could tell of the town it seemed likely that a lot of the men did the same job, as there seemed very little other industry or work opportunities in the barren, desert landscape. Also, there were only women and children to be seen.

We knew that we had a long slog of a hill to get up to Ipiales and then a further climb up to Otavalo, but as it was only about 50km, so we were hoping that it would be a relatively short day on the bikes. The climb up to Ipiales was a long switchback, which climbed fairly quickly out of the valley. It was a slow plod but we were just gratefully that we weren't completing it with wind in our faces.

We intentionally tried to keep to the ring road of Ipiales, as we had no reason for getting caught up in the city traffic. I noticed, that even though we hardly saw anything of Ipiales, I counted 6 Chinese restaurants in the space of about 10 minutes. Compared to Colombia where I don't think we ever saw a Chinese restaurant, we have really noticed their influence here already. We stopped for an Ecuadorian lunch and were pleased as it was one of the tastiest set lunches that we have had for a while. As we filled up our water bottles again, we noticed that the clouds had parted to show a huge, snow covered volcano. It was beautiful as it loomed above us at almost
6000m, peering out beneath the clouds.

We continued on to Otavalo and were settled in to a hostel by 2pm, which was great. We had been aiming to get here for a huge market, that we have heard lots about and seemed like quite the attraction for locals and tourists alike. We knew that it was held every Saturday, so had arrived into town on the Friday afternoon. The town was fairly small, and nestled in a valley, with huge volcanoes on both sides, which seemed to be hidden in the clouds most of the time.

In the early evening, we heard what we thought was a brass band on the street outside and went out to investigate. We discovered that it was a parade of mainly schoolchildren, who were singing and dancing to Christmas songs. Each school in the area had their own band and procession and the whole parade lasted for a couple of hours. There were hundreds of spectators lining the streets to watch them pass, but we thought it was quite strange that they would just sit there and watch; none of them clapped, or cheered or waved to the children. It was also funny to hear the Christmas songs, as we would know the tune to some of them, but only when the band was close enough, we would realise that all of the words had been changed to Spanish. Unfortunately neither of us had taken out our cameras and so we don't have any photos but most of the children were only in a normal looking school uniform and they didn't have floats or anything very elaborate.  Their was a really friendly vibe throughout the whole evening and the Christmas lights were turned on down the main streets and the Christmas tree was illuminated in the main square.  All the evening was missing was some mulled wine by a fireplace!

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Grandma on

I've really enjoyed reading your "stories".!!!! It seems there's always a new venture. You's both seem so energetic, and enjoying everything to the fullest. In case I don't talk again.... We wish you's the very best for Xmas. Hopefully someone will serve you's a nice Xmas meal, with all the trimings, and maybe even some "MULLED WINE",Will probably not be the same as what you's are used to,but I'm sure their heart is in it.

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