Thursday, 24 September 2015





We woke up and were ready to go to the biggest traditional market in South America, The Otovalo Market. Joy was still feeling a little fragile but could now at least sit up for more than 5mins and stomach some apple. Roxy had also given her a cocktail of pills to combat everything that was still plaguing her. We arranged to meet James at the Ofelia bus station where we would catch the bus to Otavalo.

We got to the bus station around 09:30 and realised that we definitely should have left earlier. The queue to buy the bus tickets was an endless row of people that looked like a line of ants following one another. There were bus station security guards standing along the long line to keep order and make sure no one cut in. We reluctantly went all the way to the back of the queue to wait for an unknown amount of time. The people waiting to go to the market were not only tourists but mostly locals. This gave us reassurance that the market would be authentic and worth visiting. One of our mottos during travelling is "Do as the locals do"- this refers to restaurants, buses and attractions. Locals will always know the best and cheapest spots.

We stood in the line,  which seemed to be moving at the same speed of tectonic plates, but eventually we reached the front and got our bus tickets. It was then a 2 hour drive to the little town of Otavalo. The landscape along the way was very beautiful, the mountains and volcanoes framing us in the valley as we drove. The town of Otavalo itself was bigger than we had expected and had much more charm than we could have anticipated. 

We walked a few blocks from the bus stop and found the first stalls of the crafts market -  known as the Plaza de Ponchos. Otavalo also boasts a Saturday animal market but that had already closed at 1pm and we only arrived in Otavalo at about 1.30pm. Besides we have seen many pigs, goats and chickens being sold at markets in Africa.  So no real loss there. 

As we walked through the streets and passed all the tents that had been constructed and decorated for the day, we were blown away by the sheer expanse of the stalls and the wide variety of products available. You could literally get anything you wanted here. 

Adorable 'little' person clothes - perhaps we should buy some pink dungarees for Ashley (Joy's niece)

An arrangement of spices and grains

Little hummingbird painted onto feathers

SA girls wielding some weapons - Joy with a rather ancient stone artifact but Rox found a more modern and effective metal blade in an artistic leather case

Bright Tigua paintings - we should have brought our original pieces of art to sell here. We could have made enough money to go to Galapogas, or at least buy a cheap choccie.

Some beads resembling those sold at Mazeppa Bay (in South Africa). And look there at the back - It is Roxy's fat, fluffy lama that she painted!

We had read about this amazing pie shop that we had to visit, Shenandoah Pie Shop. Daniel had confirmed that it was the best and suggested that we have a piece of Mora pie. We took his advice and ordered what we hoped would be a little piece of heaven.

James and Joy ready to get in there!

It was delicious - the pastry had the perfect crumble consistency and the filling was fruity, tart and warm. We bought a piece for Daniel, but were so tempted to dig into it the whole day...don't worry we didn't.  

Customised Chess set - Indigenous vs. Spanish

This big pot may look scary but it actually made part of the next food to be sampled. James sampling the roll filled with stewed figs and cheese. 

Musical instruments made from natural materials

The streets lined with stalls

Shrunken head keyring - hmm...what an interesting souvenir.

James blending in with the balaclava type headdress

These are examples of the hair accessories that the women braid into their hair.

Blue-footed Boobie figurine

One thing we did notice was that all the women were dressed in traditional clothing. These beautiful cotton hand-embroided tops, high-waisted skirts and oversized belts all made up part of this traditional outfit.


Joy ready to dig into Daniel's piece of Mora pie

A 'traditional' Indian headdress... We had obviously come down the citchy tourist Street. 

Roxy and James amongst the crowd

Beads for Africa... Very similar to those found in the Transkei 

Bob Marly has really made his mark across the world. Where there are hippy types, one shall find Marly merchandise

This little girl was so cute - she was just smiling at us the whole time

Some silver and wooden pendants. Turtles, hummingbirds and other animals all featured on pendants, earrings and other pieces of jewellery. 

Traditional musical instruments - pan pipes, flutes and cow hooves that are worn around the ankles

A normal lunch - fried guinea pigs. We were keen to try it but as Joy was still feeling a little sensitive, we decided to delay the devouring of this hopefully delicious delicacy. 

Exquisite embroidered place mats and attractively decorated face masks. 

After strolling down the many streets of the market, we went in search of some lunch. 

James ordered a recommended local dish which came with a rather interesting topping... Dried sheep's blood! 

Good luck... 

Well his face says it all... He described it as 'meat soil'. Sounds scrumptious! 

Roxy bravely decided to take a taste... We do not have photographic evidence of Roxy's meat soil face but it definitely was not as smiley as this 'before' pic. 

After this adventurous lunch, we were back on the streets to continue browsing. 

Joy displaying this frigate bird intricately painted on a seed pod

Joy could not hold back any longer and fell into the South American Traveller's Trap and ended up buying an Alpaca jersey. Although she likes to think it is something the locals would wear, it is not... It is basically a huge sign that screams 'I am not from here'. But it bothers her not - it is warm, has cute llamas on it and is Her colour! 

It is just so fluffy!!!! 

Roxy sporting a rather attractive beanie,  but since it was too big for her she didn't end up taking it, even though the stall owner offered to give it to her for less than half the price.  It just shows how overpriced these goods are initially set at for tourists before the bargaining game begins... 

We had spent a good few hours around the market and had had our fill of traditional trinkets, so we headed back to the bus station to get a bus back to Quito.

Quick peak at some of the traditional outfits through the bus window - the skirt always matches the embroidery on the cotton tops. 

Stunning views on the bus ride back to Quito

The bus ride back seemed to be an uneventful trip although one strange occurrence did happen along the way. James had wanted to sit in the seat behind us as we were boarding but was directed to sit in front of us by the bus attendant,  even though nobody had assigned seats.  He politely obliged and two youths snuck into the seats behind us. About 30mins into the trip Roxy felt a stern tug on her bag which was wrapped around her leg on the floor at her feet. She felt it may have just been the movement of the bus around corners causing her bag to sway. She quickly urged Joy to check her bag but Joy was certain that her bag was locked,  as we always do. Shortly after this event, the bus stopped and the two youngens skulked off the bus. It was only once we arrived back at Daniel's house that Joy checked her bag and realised that she had forgotten to lock the main pouch and her camera was gone! Oh no! She went white as she continued to unpack all of the contents of her bags but alas she could not find it anywhere! Those sneaky little cretins had stealthfully stolen the camera right from under her feet! Luckily for us Roxy had uploaded and saved all the photos on Joy's camera onto the cloud the night before and all the photos of our Otavalo trip had also luckily been taken on Roxy's camera, so we didn't lose any pics. After going to a local police station and being referred to the tourist police station, Daniel assured us that he would take us to this correct police station the next day and help us to make a statement. Grr... Unfortunately where there is opportunity, there will always be opportunists. What a sour way to end such a fun day.

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