Monday, February 15, 2010

Plaza de Los Ponchos in Otavalo

The Otavalo Artesan market, not to be confused with the food market for the locals in my previous post, is billed as the largest outdoor crafts market in Latin America. I googled it, apparently this is correct, although who has the final say on who's market is the largest is up for grabs.

The indigenous people in Otavalo are among the most prosperous of any town, they have figured out how to make things out of fabric, seeds, nuts, wood, yarn and anything they can come up with and sell it to everyone. They crochet, polish, carve and string things while waiting for customers to come by. They haul all the goods to the plaza to designated areas every morning and haul it all away at 5pm. It's amazing to see how industrious they are, and the whole family helps out.

Plaza de Los Ponchos is the main square and the market is there every day of the week. The famous Saturday market is more of the same goods spread out over all the side streets that are closed off to traffic and there's no way you could ever see every vendor, it's enormous. I'm happy with the weekday market, more my size, but the gringos descend on Otavalo on Saturdays by the bus load. Janet and I were fortunate enough to spend a week here this year, and another one last January, so we know where to go. This time I exercised restraint as I didn't want to bring home more stuff...

Here's another blogger's funny and very true take on the market:

We find ourselves in Otavalo, Ecuador, home to South America´s largest outdoor market. I should have anticipated this would be trouble.

Lessons learned:

1. Markets are a lot of fun. I actually hyperventilated a little when I saw it.

2. Bargaining makes me feel good. It doesn´t matter if I only save $1 on a $30 item- the thrill of winning is pretty fine.

3. Avoid the hammock and table cloth people at all costs. And it´s a good idea to learn how to say - ¨I don´t even have a house, let alone a table¨, in Spanish.

4. Think of a good story for crossing the Canadian border. It´s quite possible that Canada Customs will assume I am in the alpaca importing business.

5. When you can no longer carry what you´re buying, you should probably stop. Dumping your stuff at the hotel and going back can be an expensive idea.

Plaza de Los Ponchos from the balcony of our favorite eatery: Buena Vista

Another view.

Great crochet bags.

View of the street on a Saturday from our Hotel Coraza.

I love their hats!

Tagua nut is a very popular vegetable ivory used in beads and carvings.

Saturday market.

This watercolorist is very talented and only sells on Saturdays at the Plaza de Los Ponchos.

The police like wandering around town together.

Shanandoah Pie Shop is the only known pie shop in Ecuador, right on the plaza. A delicious homemade pastry, I think we had a piece everyday:-) Mora was my favorite, a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry, not found in the US that I know of. $1. No English is spoken here, but it's easy to point to your favorite pie! Tea, coffee and ice cream served along with a small assortment of real food.

At one end of the plaza are spices and some ready made food items.

Our favorite restaurant, in the door and upstairs, right on the plaza. A few doors down from the pie shop.

Here you can see the balcony upstairs, wonderful to get the one table they have outside. We referred several people here and everyone liked it. English is spoken and there's a large vegetarian menu, even a veggie burger!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Otavalo Market, Ecuador

Otavalo is full of friendly people, sights and sounds, textures and colors, home of the largest outdoor crafts market in South America. Located a short hour and a half north of Quito, it will soon be even easier to get to when the new airport opens in 2011. This is my second time in Otavalo and I am torn between wanting to make this our winter home, or Mindo. One has birds, lots of nature, the children of Salem International and many new friends. Otavalo has a thriving indigenous community with more fresh food than you can imagine. Here's a look at the daily food market for the people that live there, this is one of the things that makes Otavalo so beautiful and appealing to me.

Rolling hills and volcanos surround Otavalo.

A family affair, shelling beans and hanging out together at the market.

A boy with a toy gun, at least I hope it's a toy!


Quinoa bow tie pasta I bought from this vendor made a great meal with some fresh vegetables.

Corn in all it's forms is very popular in Ecuador. Popcorn is served with soup.

Beans anyone?

Real chicken, not in cellophane and Styrofoam.

I've never soon so many potatoes!

Such abundance! This market went on forever and is a daily event.

See the little hand sticking out? Babies attached to their mothers are the usual way.

Tree tomato, used mainly to make juice that I enjoy, but many other gringos don't care for it.

All family members help out at the market.