8. September 2007 -
A glimpse into another world...
North of Quito, Equador lives the town of Otavalo, nestled into the Andes mountains. Every Saturday morning, hundreds of stalls are set up, and slowly the tourists arrive to this the biggest
market in South America.
Yesterday, we were still playing in the waves in Santa Marianita (coastal town where Patrick took a kitesurfing course) and today we sit amongst the sites and sounds of this colorful place, high in the mountains.
We awoke early this morning, to catch a glimpse of what most don´t see...the market opening, the crisp air over the mountains and the animal market 1km from town. Llamas, pigs, cows...take your pick. On our way there, I heard the gentle bellows of a sheep, but could not find it...turns out it was strapped to the back of the 60 year woman walking towards us. Neither woman, nor animal seemed to mind.
As for the rest of the market, most of it is only eye candy for us...seeing that we still have months to go! We feel satisfied with one alpaca sweater for Patrick, two hand knit hats with ear flaps for Machu Pichu and a few pictures!
9 - 11. September
Back to Quito, Ecuador
Before we got on a bus back to Quito we went for a hike to a nearby waterfall in the back woods. It was a lovely walk through some the neighborhoods of Otavallo and through lovely forested areas along a stream full of water. At 2:00 PM we boarded the bus and it took us back to Quito where we stayed again at the Secret Garden Hostel.
The next day we spent sightseeing, visiting the cathedral, taking a tour of the convent, which incl. climbing up on the room through the bell tower and viewing the city from just above the roof tops. It was breath taking. We also did send one of our frequent picture and video backup packets back home. At night we had a lovely dinner in a place called XYZ. It was great because it felt like sitting in a nice artistic restaurant back home. A great cure for home sickness. The next day we would leave to slowly travel north.
Travelling from Quito to the “Termas de Papallacta” (Hot Springs)
We left our hostel relatively early to get to the bus that would take us to the hot springs 3-4 hours away. We got on the bus and settled nicely in for about 1.5 hours when I startled with a shock: Where are our passports? Oh, sh*t, I left them in the hostel! (We often hid the passport in our rooms in places potential people with malicious intent would not look…it looks like this time we hid it too well) So, we got off the bus, crossed the street got onto the bus going the opposite direction (this again was instantaneously) and rode the 90 mins back into town, grabbed a taxi and at the hostel, I ran into to the room to pick up the pouch with our passports. The cab had waited for us, and took us back to the bus station where we got on the next bus to the hot springs. After this excitement the bus ride and the reminder of the day went by pretty smoothly. The bus climbed all the way up to over 4,000 meters to the pass we had to navigate to get to the springs.
One thing I noticed was that the bus driver was just throwing his empty bottles of soda out of the window along with other trash. As I looked out of the window you could see lots and lots of trash on the side of the road in an otherwise very beautiful landscape of the Andean highlands. The sense of environmental concerns has obviously not yet reached the Ecuadorians. I am sure they will get there soon.
The bus dropped us off at an intersection and the last 3 KM to the hostel we were staying at we covered via a taxi pickup truck. We got a nice room with a fire place and walked the remaining 10 min. to the hotspring complex. They charged a stiff price of $17 but we have to say it was a very nice set-up. There we treated ourselves to a massage, which was done extremely well and with style. Probably the best massage I received during this trip. At night, back at the hostel we tried to light up the fire place, which took longer then expected. Alex’s persistence made it finally light up and we had a nice fire going.
Nevertheless, I had a really bad night last night. We were at 3,800 meters and altitude sickness was having its way with me. Besides the symptoms of sleeplessness, we had made the mistake of not buying water and when I woke up in the middle of the night I was forced to drink the tap water. Hoping that it would be ok to do so, as we were up at a altitude where the water should be quite pure, I took a drink. Big mistake, for which I paid for dearly later.