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Dalama Adventures Tale of two corporate types ditching their jobs and traveling the world for 14 months... check out all photos, blogs & interesting tid bits at http://www.dalama.net

Road to Otavalo

ECUADOR | Thursday, 1 November 2007 | Views [1092]

We make our way with our huge packs through historic old Quito, to the bus terminal.  Again, we approach the station with caution and vigilance, as everything we've read and been told about this bus station is not good.  Bag slashing, strap cutting, pick-pocketing thieves abound, and we don't want to get taken.  The station looks no different than others we may have been in along the way.  I pop my head into the small cubicle with a big "I" over it, filled with security police guys having their morning coffee.  "Vamos a Otavalo, y quiero comprar dos boletos por favor."  (I need to buy bus tickets to Otavalo).  The guy tells me in very clearly spoken Spanish to go up to the freeway overpass and pick up the bus there.  We make our way through a stinky urine smelling stairway and immediately get hounded by guys trying to direct us to their bus, and attempting to relieve us of our bags.  Flash back to the bus depot in Cambodia, these guys are like vultures.  I push my way through them, muttering phrases in Spanish.  I stand right next to a tourist policeman by the busses and proceed to ask the touts which bus will take us to the Otavalo terminal.  They're pushy, trying to move us and our bags quickly, but we stall, put our bag covers on, and select one of the business.  We board, and see that we're the only two on the bus.  We take seats directly over the under-bus luggage storage compartment to keep an eye on baggage activity.  The bus is grimy and windows so filthy we can barely see out of them.  They are also stuck shut, it's going to be a warm ride.  We settle into our seats as the bus finally pulls forward, co-pilot hanging out the door yelling "Ota, ota, ota, valo..." and he picks up a few more passengers.  The food vendors start to pile in, not realizing that there's only a few of us, and two of us aren't keen on eating ice cream and soda at 10:00 a.m.  An hour into our two hour journey the bus is over packed, and I now understand why we were warned not to put any bags in the overhead bins... there is so much passenger activity, and belongings moving in and out of the overhead bins from people standing in the aisles, it would be very easy for our bags to grow legs and walk off without us knowing.  The bus breaks down just outside Otavalo, so we decide flag a cab, which looks like it could take awhile.  After chatting with a bunch of school kids on the roadside, we finally hail a yellow cab.  Our driver is so cool, he corrects all my Spanish, which is nearly every other word that comes out of my mouth.  He speaks slowly and clearly, we love this guy.  He's of course, eager to convince us to use his private driver service to tour the region, and what a bonus, he could also give us Spanish lessons while he drives.

Otavalo is a small town, nestled among volcanic slopes, and has around 30,000 people living here.  The locals wear traditional clothing; men in blue wool ponchos and white capri pants with crisp white shirts and the occasional black leather jacket under the poncho, felt hats and white sandals/shoes.  The women have long black wool skirts and white fluffy embroidered blouses, and similar felt hats like the men.  Men and women alike, wear their hair tied back in a long braid, with the women wrapping their braids in colorful woven cloth straps.  People here are tiny, smaller than Guatemaltecos. They have beautiful dark brown skin, dark eyes, jet black hair... I don't think anyone here goes grey.  They all look stunning, at all ages.  There's a large population of "young generation" here too, a very youthful feel to the town.  Young couples walk hand in hand; young girls in traditional dress, while the young boys don the latest fashions of baggy jeans that hang low, hip t-shirts, and hair pulled back into a pony tail.  It's unique to see the couples with the contrast of traditional and nuevo fashion.  The streets here are lined with internet cafes, sometimes several on a single block.  Every internet cafe is packed with young school girls and boys; it's tough even to get a free computer, as the kids are always there, from opening to closing.  It's cute to see all the young girls in their traditional clothing lining the computer tables.  These are the liveliest internet cafes we've been in around the world... it's the social hang out for the young generation.  This community has been able to ride the tourist wave very well... many locals appear well off, there are lots of nice cars, and people of all ages are stunningly beautiful and take great pride with how they meticulously present themselves.  The town buildings are well maintained and the shops and restaurants are cozy and warm.  The locals couldn't be friendlier here, and we feel instantly at home in this small hill town.

We settle into our very unique hostel; Riveria Sucre, where we get a big rustic room with separate ensuite, big bright windows, and brightly colored flower trim around the walls.  Home sweet home for the next three nights. 

Tags: On the Road

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