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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Ecuador - 5 November, 2001

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Hotel Plaza Internacional, Quito S0012.515' W07829.668' 2,799 m
Hostal Valle del Amanecer, Otavalo N0013.738' W07815.607' 2,569 m 110 km
Tour around Otavalo area villages . . . 40 km (jeepney)
Finish Hostal Valle del Amanecer, Otavalo N0013.738' W07815.607' 2,569 m .

Leg 1 Total:

150 km

Galapagos:

771 km

Grand Total:

921 km

 

Weather: Clear, sunny and warm.

 

 

Today is the first day of our trip.  We are up early and after a quick breakfast (which was lousy - the bread was stale), we loaded all the bags into the truck and headed off shortly after 8:30 AM.  It was a bit of a strange sensation being back in a Dragoman truck - deja vu.  We had just spent eight months driving through Africa in Christie and now we were back in another, very similar truck - this time called Priscilla.  Even the whistle from the air intake while in low gear was similar.

 

We drove north towards Otavalo, where we will spend the night.  Along the way, we stop as we cross the equator, so that we can get some pictures - very touristy thing to do.  The road is not too bad, but you can tell that they still have quite a few accidents by the many crosses on the side of the road.  

 

We arrive in Otavalo just before noon and a few of us run off to the famous pie shop for lunch.  We have a huge sandwich and blueberry pie for lunch - great.  Then we go on a tour of the villages around Otavalo, where the native indians have many craft works.  Each village will specialise in one particular craft.  The success of the Otavaleno weavers is phenomenal and it has made them one of the wealthiest native groups in the Americas.

 

Ecuador01_Otavalo_Tour08_Jeepney_3868_Web.jpg (87423 bytes)

Our tour bus is a jeepney style vehicle, which is quite difficult for us to squeeze into - in particular the longer folk.  They have to carefully fit their bodies in through the narrow openings.  In the end, quite a few of us decide to sit on the roof - more comfortable and we get a better view.

 

Ecuador01_Otavalo_Tour05_Music_3865_Web.jpg (87621 bytes)

On our shortened tour (it is supposed to be a full day), we start off by walking up to a small waterfall - nothing special.  From there, we drive to a small village where we see a weaver who uses a loom at work.  In the same village, a couple of block away, we visit a family of musicians.  They make some of their own instruments (reed flutes) and they play traditional style music.  In addition to showing us how the instruments are made, they put on a small concert and play a couple of different songs.  It is actually quite good and they have a nice rhythm.  As we head out we are mobbed by a group of young children trying to sell us small trinkets.

 

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The next stop is another small village where we visit a wool maker and weaver at work.  As he does not have a son, his daughter is helping him out.  He gives us a demonstration of how he converts the wool (which he had just washed) into yarn that he then wove into a scarf.  It was all done by hand and the quality of the yarn was amazing - soft but yet strong.  We decided to buy a couple of scarves from him.  This was one of the more interesting stops.  We also noticed that he (and the other weavers) were preparing lots of pieces with American flags or other U.S. related motifs following the 11 September terror attack.  We were not sure if they were being produced as a result of large demand or whether they were hoping for a large demand for them (but we did see quite a few people in the streets wearing shirts with pro-U.S. motifs).

 

Our final stop was a a village famous for selling leather goods.  We have to drive along a road that passes through a wonderful deep gorge.  Once there, as we are not too interested in leather, we wander the street.  They have a nice plaza and church.  We get back to Otavalo around 5 PM, and go out and check the last remnants of the market where they sell all the native crafts.  They are already packing up, so we do not hang around for long.

 

We decide to have dinner back at the Pie Shop, but this time we are disappointed.  Was not as good and the selection of pies that were left were not very good.

 

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