Gringo Tour's Hot Spots

Trip Start Feb 21, 2012
Trip End Jan 11, 2012

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What I did
Leather & Textile Markets, San Pablo Crater Lake

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

There is just certain things & place's you are obligated to see when you are checking off the "must do's": in Ecuador....Yesterday was spent doing exactly that & as usual i am happy to report, I was not disappointed....With my trusty guide "JourneymanJack" & our ever useful translator "Andrea"---the Journeyman's girl we (to include a new addition- Irish Mike) set out of Quito on Panamericana Norte, that's Panamerican North to you & I, for Cayambe, Ecuador, our 1st stop....The city's name sake, a snow capped mountain, was able to seen shortly after we left Quito & got onto Panamericana Norte...Majestic, in a word, cannot describe it's imposing presence or effect on the skyline....Surrounded by desert like, arid mountains, Cayambe's white caps & shear size makes it the focal point in the distance....The city of Cayambe is somewhat typical & otherwise unspecial minus the biscuit "Bizcocho" factory we stopped at and partook along with, perhaps, the most incredible cup of hot chocolate i have ever had...Apparently the oldest & most respected "Bizcocho" establishment around, it was anything but a factory, rather multitudes of human laborers sitting at a table hand making & pumping out unfathomable amounts of this delectable, light, savory, treat...Alternating a bite of bizcocho with the string like cheese we purchased as an accompanyment & a sip of that amazing hot chocolate was simply perfection....Continuing down the road, our next stop was Lago San Pablo, a volcanic crater lake, where, of course, we took the obligatory photos, heads stuck thru the cut outs of "Indigenous Garbed" wood look like's...cheesy, yes, but you would have done it to!!!! That stop was particularly to satisfy Jody, as she raved about how stunning this crater-lake must be & her disdain for not being able to see it while she was here. Our next stop along the way was Otavalo, the largest indigenous textile market in the country, and a must go for anyone coming to Ecuador....The cool thing about place's like Otavalo & our next stop Cotacachi (leather experts) is that the products they produce are specific to each area...They have been hand weaving or leather crafting in these place's for 100's of years and that's what they stick to....You don't go to Otavalo if you want a hand made leather bag or coat & you don't go to Cotacachi if you want an Alpaca sweater or other textile...There are other area's that specialize in wood working or cabinet making..ect..ect..ect....They are all expert's in their given craft's & that's what they stick to....No per-say cross contamination...Walking thru the market in Otavalo, it was actually an off day as Saturday is the big day, i was amazed at the quality & diversity of the product's....Colors abound & a feast for the eyes...The highlight tho, was a picture i took with the cutest & tiniest older woman, after witch, she demanded $1....It was all in fun, as you will see in the pic, she was all smiles & full of playful bantor....On to Cotacachi, known for their expert leather work, it was less a market as long road of leather shops...(called, if i recall, "Leather row") The quality, diversity, & pricing was, in my opinion, or experience, unmatched...I don't think, there is anything these craftsman cannot do with the ole cow hide...After perusing the shops it was time to eat, which we did, at a classy, comfortable place with live music & a good mix of local's & gringo's...Cotacachi is quickly becoming (along with Cuenca) an expat retirement favorite...Anywho, back to my meal....I had a fantastic bowl of potato & avacado soup, along with a stuffed shrimp & avacado salad....Yummy....With beer's, shot's & 3 others meal's included our total came to $28....Easily, easily 2 - 3 x's that back home....Did i mention gasoline is only $1.46 a gallon here also....Things that make you say Hmmmmmmmmm......Just so happens, the "Journeymans" uncle lives in Cotacachi (along with his beautiful wife) which afforded us the opportunity to get on their roof and get some great view's & shots of both Cotacachi & Tungurahua Volcano's.....Tungurahua, which erupted & blew its top off in the 50's, causing the city to be evacuated for quite some time..You can still see the remnant's if that eruption as represented by the black ring that extends 1/4 of the way from the now undefined or less defined peak..That basically concluded our day, minus a brief run in with a civil servant (cop) on the way back, due to a quick changing yellow to red light, hehehehehe had to mention that Jack!!!!! Good new's tho, Andrea batted her eye's and negotiated a warning so no harm no foul.....My original plans, now i know not to make any, to leave for the coast on the 17th, appear to be changing as i am being hounded to stick around for Thanksgiving & either assist with preparations at "Finn Mc Cools" or Jacks.....All joking aside, it is much more my desire to stay & be with friends for the holiday than anything else, they are serving me well as my adoptive family & helping me along when i miss mine back home, which i do,hangin with Netr, goin to the auction with Mamma & Country, Jamie & the girls, doin projects with Pop & maybe, mostly, the ease & availability to be contacted & to contact my girls.. But as my brother Mike said "The opportunity you have now & the experience's you are enjoying, more than make up for temporary discomfort, there will be more holiday's, few people get to run off to foreign lands for months at a time"...Well said bro.....until my next post, Love to all & ttys

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