We decided to follow the advice from Fromers and hire a driver and car to take us to Otavalo, a town with a “world famous market.” It was nice to go on a Tuesday as opposed to a Saturday when the crowds are thick and overwhelming. According to Angel, our driver, there is more product, on Saturdays, but not necessarily more variety. Just more of the same. I bought a Panama hat, made in Ecquador, which they all are. Owen bought some paintings. The artist and his wife were there. I guess we did well on the price.
During the “negotiations” A man, his granddaughter and his wife stood near us to watch the action. The man, who was about our age asked me how much they cost. I gave him a number but it was in USA slang without the hundred included and he didn’t understand. He asked about it again and I gave him a number that he would understand. He explained how the young girl’s father was his son and she, the granddaughter complemented him on his English. Everyone had a good time.
I noticed that almost all the people in the stalls are women. Mostly they embroidered and crochted. I only saw one young woman knitting and it was a “knit every row scarf” in bright blue.
After that we went to lunch at a nature preserve for a volcano. We had a traditional Ecuadorian lunch of fried banana, cheese, avacado, hominy, roasted corn and unchewable fried pork pieces. After lunch the three of us went on a short walk up a very steep hill to look at the volcano crater lake on one side and the verdant valley on the other side. Elevation 11,500 feet. Hello, Leadville. Our guide gave us the names of the plants on the side of the trail.
The final stop was in a town called …..something. I’ll get it tomorrow. The town is known for leather goods and oh, my the streets smell of the stuff. The prices are unbelievable. They didn’t come down any in price, especially when we said we were going to pay with a credit card. Oh, well, the value was still there. Again, the people working the stores, cutting the skins and sewing the clothes were, women. The men are off doing something else, working in quarries, I guess. We were supporting women owned businesses.
The last woman owned business was the restaurant we went to tonight. Lucy is the chef, her sister Anna Marie lives with Ted in Oregon for 6 months a year and down here the rest of the time. Anna Marie have been married for four years and met when they were working in Yellow Stone Park four years ago. They are in their 60′s. Lucy’s son Phillippe was our waiter and Carlos (Charles) Lucy’s husband works there but doesn’t speak much English. Everyone came out to meet us. And the food, oh my the food. They are “tapas” in size, small and very unusual. I had coffee and chocolate rice with my vegetables and it was really good. There was mouthwash in the ladies. It was all so nice and classy. All 2 blocks from our hotel.
Angel told Owen that you could rent a 2 story house in Quito for $800…..wait for it….a year. Wow.