Caresse's 2007 Adventure to Ecuador and Peru travel blog

Weaving mats in traditional home

Ecuadorian delicacy

Patchwork countryside

San Pablo Lake with a volcano in the background

Playing the pan flute we just watched him make

Making wool

Traditional Ecuadorian men's clothing

Traditional Ecuadorian woman's clothing

A swaddled sheep at the animal market

Will you buy my piglet

Wallowing in the mud

Hippy girl


Colorful fruits and veggies

We've just arrived back in Quito after spending the last 3 days in the highlands in a community called Otavalo. While we were there we took a tour to several indigenous communities to learn about different traditional handicrafts. In the first community we visited a family home where they still make reed mats from the totora plant. The mats are used for sleeping on and take 2 to 3 hours to weave. The reeds are harvested from a nearby lake where they grow up to 3 meters high and you often have to wade in the water up to your neck to harvest them. As with most traditional families, this one had a small pen of guinea pigs in their house. Guinea pigs are a delicacy here and are eaten for special occasions such as weddings. At all of the traditional restaurants we've eaten at the guinea pigs are always the most expensive thing on the menu. Up to $16.00 for a meal of guinea pig!

We also visited a family home of some well known Ecuadorian musicians that play dozens of traditional instruments and also make pan flutes. We also had an opportunity to visit another home to watch wool being processed and woven. Things were very festive in some of these communities as its the beginning of the Carnival festival. Unlike Rio, the Carnival here doesn't consist of costumes and parades, but water fights! For days, we've been avoiding kids with water balloons, water guns and aerosol cans of colored spray foam.

Today was the Saturday market in Otavalo where hundreds of indigenous people come from surrounding communities to sell animals, food and handicrafts. First we visited the chaotic animal market where all the sheep, donkeys, cows, pigs and horses are brought and are only tethered with a small rope around their neck or leg. You can imagine the chaos when a several hundred pound pig decides to misbehave! It was highly entertaining watching the new proud owners of a pig trying to cross the highway with their ornery, squealing purchase. I asked one lady flocking 3 little pigs what the price was and it was $75.00 to start for all 3. I'm sure I could have bargained her down further, but they may have been difficult to get home!

After the animal market we checked out the food market before heading to the handicraft section. We spent hours shopping and all I could find was a couple of beaded necklaces! Everything is very colorful and a lot of fun to look at, but not what most of us would wear back in Canada or display on our mantle! So now we're back in Quito for the night and will be heading out tomorrow afternoon for Lima Peru. Next time you hear from me I'll be in the town of Cuzco and heading to Machu Pichu.


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