To Market, to Market...

Trip Start Jan 19, 2012
Trip End Feb 03, 2012

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We find out that we're actually staying in the little town of San Pablo del Lago near the lake of the same name. There are many San Pablo's in Ecuador and their names are differentiated in some way. Apparently, all the cities have a full religious name, like San Francisco de Quito.

After breakfast in the main building , we board our  bus sans luggage for the short drive to Otavalo and the market place. Today is not the large market, but smaller and focused on textiles as well as the typical tourist fare. The colors are amazing. I'm continually finding hats, scarfs, and other items stacked or layered in bright rainbows. I also find some nice souvenirs.

Next stop is a little family owned felt hat "factory"- just a home with the downstairs includes the workplace and a shop. It's fun to see all the hats set out, some in black and others very colorful. Their doorstep also appears to be an assembly spot for the local pups.

Back to the bus for a ride further north to visit a farming community home, called Inti Wasi or Sun House. The community of farms was formed from an old hacienda. The Quichua family will share with us their knowledge of indigenous peoples method of cooking, farming, and embroidery. They start us out with bread dough and we get to create the rolls for our lunch. Mine look pretty sad while others are able to create lovely braids. They are baked in their brick oven outside. We wander their farm yard for a while discovering their llama family who obligingly pose for pictures.

Then we load up into the bus for a short ride further up the mountain. We are on the same Atahualpa Road we took coming out of the town, though narrower now. It is beautifully made of stones carefully laid in set patterns. They first lay guide lines of rocks in perfectly parallel lines up the road. Then the area in between is filled in with round pebbles.

We reach the end of the cobblestones and the beginning of a narrower dirt track. The bus stops here! We get out and slowly begin to walk down the road along with our farmer friend, who answers all our questions about flora and fauna. Eventually, we stop and the bus takes us he rest of the way down to Inti Wasi where our lunch is waiting for us, including our delicious rolls!

After lunch a local band of guitars, drum and pan pipes plays some lively tunes for us. We join them in a ring dance led by Martine, our hostess. Afterwards, one of the community artisans brings out some embroidery samples for purchase. It's an example of the artistry they use to decorate their own clothes as well as the artifacts they sell at the market.

Down the hill now for a quick stop at another artisan shop. This time a weaver. He designs and creates scenic wall hangings. He also has some beautiful alpaca sweaters for sale.

Then we drive back to out lovely monastery for dinner and the warm fireplace afterwards.
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