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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

Market Day in Otavalo

ECUADOR | Saturday, 3 November 2007 | Views [970]

The Saturday market in Otavalo is one of the biggest handicraft markets in all of South America.  Beautifully dressed indigenous locals stream into this small town early Saturday morning to set up their colorful stalls.  There are a ton of foreigners here for the market, they all started pouring in late last night for the weekly event.

We're looking forward to the market to mingle with the locals and learn about local life.  As our packs are already too heavy and DHL is over $100/kilo to send home, we're not really in the market to buy stuff, although looking around, I could definitely stuff a boutique sore in the mountains of Mammoth, California, full of really cool things...  hmmm... a new business opportunity for when I return home?

We start out early at 7:00 a.m. at the local animal market.  We haul ourselves out of bed and into the rain to the muddy lot where men and women proudly display their cattle, pigs, horses and sheep on ropes.  It is quite a social market, and I'm having a great time chatting with some local men about their big sales of the morning... one guy sold a huge pig.  Another guy is here with his family for the local produce market, and he takes great pride in introducing his young daughter and then asks me a ton of questions about our travels in Ecuador, and how we like his country, and when we will return.  He goes out of his way to find a pen and paper to give me his phone number.  Not sure what I'm supposed to do with it; with my limited vocabulary, I'd be able to have a really great phone conversation.  Another tiny woman carrying a huge pack of scarves in a wool wrap on her back busts out a photo of herself in her home, using a hand loom to weave these beautiful scarves.

We have enough of the muddy market and dodging the squealing pigs that are struggling to make a break from their eventual fateful sale to a butcher.  We stroll through the town which was now converted into a gigantic market.  We first pass the fresh market... piles of chickens on tables, in bins, spread out on tarps - all types, the full bodies, just heads, feet.  The guy selling the full chickens said he's hoping to fetch $10/chicken!  Must be some organic wonder chicken for a cost like that in this country.  Piles of veggies stacked 8-10 high on tables are beautifully displayed; big bins of green and red speckled beans, and corn, everywhere there's corn, cooking hot on the grills, flavoring the air.  Fresh meat hangs from twine on a mobile stand, and the owner proudly poses with the results of his hard labor on the farm.  

We weave our way into the colorful stalls. If we had room in our bags I would have loaded up on sweaters for my little niece Emily.  They are so beautiful , lots of colors, flowers, animals, village scenes woven in thick colorful warm wool.  And the ponchos, so cute for children.... even Darrin is tempted to buy on of the gorgeous indigo ponchos with a felt hat to top.  It would be great for the cold nights and bus rides to come in Peru, Bolivia and Chile, not to mention for cold beach days during San Diego winters.  

Women and men meticulously hang their wears; rugs, wall hangings, sweaters, leather goods, bags and blankets.  Other stalls hold musical instruments, wooden flutes, guitars, mandolins, drums, maracas and others that I'm not sure of the names.  Other stalls sell sweet treats.  I buy a wool hat and gloves for $5, knowing I'll need them for our high elevation hikes.

We finally brake down, and after 10 months of wearing nothing but synthetic, plastic travel wear, and freezing the past few nights at higher elevations when the temperature drops, we do the unthinkable, we both buy pairs of jeans!  Now that we're beyond the hot sticky humidity of India and Asia, we decide to treat ourselves and boy do we feel good - it's just like being at home on a cool rainy day and eating grilled cheese and tomato soup, comfort food... and these are our comfort clothes, our luxury items at $25/pair.  Despite not working out for nearly 10 months, we're surprised we still fit into our old sizes.  I've been avoiding, in each country we travel to, the street vendors (typically little old men) who set a scale down on the sidewalk in front of us, and want us to give them money to tell us how overweight we've become.  It's shocking that we'd actually want to know how grossly out of shape we are, none the less, pay money for it!

Market day has been a fun event, not just because we bought fun comfort clothes, but mostly due to the friendly locals we've gotten to know.  One couple wanted us to take their picture after speaking with us for 10 minutes by the raw meat stand.  I promised to email the photo to them.  I had a great time chatting with a local boy who was finishing his school and wanting to learn about other countries, and to practice his English.  Everywhere we walked we were received with big smiles and a curious battery of questions which ultimately let the locals we spoke with know how much we were enjoying their beautiful country.

We ate an amazing seafood dinner at a local restaurant and were so fat, happy and exhausted that we completely forgot about the cock fight in the town fighting ring with we had been looking forward to seeing.

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