Quito, Ecuador & Otavalo, Ecuador

It was the last day of my trip to Ecuador, and I didn’t want to leave. Lucky for me, my flight wasn’t till late in the night, and I still had 1 last day of activities planned. We started the day with a late wake-up. After, breakfast downstairs, I went up to freshen up, then brought all of my baggage to the lobby. The hotel staff helped us move all of our baggage to a small room where it would be stored safely till our return. Everyone boarded the bus, and we set off towards Otavalo, Ecuador. Otavalo is a market town in Ecuador located 3 hours from Quito. The road to Otavalo was steep with great views from both sides of the bus. We repeatedly passed through mountains and valleys. My original plan had been to sleep on the bus because I hadn’t slept much the night before, however, as soon as we left Quito, I was mesmerized by the spectacular views.

About 20 minutes before we reached the market, we stopped at a rest area to freshen up. But the highlight of the stop was going out onto the observation deck located to the side of the rest area. From it, we could see a large clear lake, and almost perfectly reflecting onto it, was the largest volcano in that part of Ecuador. I tell you, the view was worthy of being on postcards! There was also a small family band playing Andean music inside the rest stop. They were great, and I ended up buying a CD from them.

As we neared the market, we were given some general knowledge. Otavalo market was a LARGE, open-air market, and sold mainly craft goods. It was one of THE best places to buy souvenirs in all of Ecuador. The prices are generally always low, but we were told we could bargain with the vendors. We were also told, that because the market was such a magnet for tourists, all of the vendors spoke English well, but they would be more inclined to give you a good deal if you conversed with them in Spanish.

We pulled up and parked the bus, and walked about 100 yards to the large square where the market was held. There were SO MANY SHOPS! Each had a little table with a canopy over it. On the tables were laid out shot glasses, blankets, key chains, jewelry, paintings, figurines, sculptures, t-shirts, magnets, and SO MUCH MORE! We were quite overwhelmed by all of the shops and all they had to offer! I ended up buying about $30 worth of souvenirs from Otavalo. It was definitely a great experience.

After about an hour of shopping, we all headed back to the bus and took the short drive over to “leather town.” This area was known for everything and anything leather related. Having exhausted all of my money in Otavalo, I had no pressure of buying, just browsing. There were so many leather products, it was insane! We had lunch in leather-town, in a large restaurant. Our tour director, as a parting gift, ordered a local delicacy, “cuy” also known as a guinea pig. I didn’t want to go anywhere near the dish, but some of the others tried it. The verdict: “Tasted like chicken.” After lunch, we spent a little while just walking around. It was around then that I started to feel quite weak and lethargic.

Afterward, we got back on the bus and drove back to the hotel. I slept on the way back because I was tired beyond belief. I felt a little sickly as we got back to the hotel, and this feeling would continue throughout the rest of the evening and the night. It was a problem that started to affect some others in the group. SOmething we ate must not have agreed with us because soon, many of my fellow travelers complained of feeling ill. At the hotel, we sat and talked about our favorite parts of the trip and other memories from the trip. Our tour director had us act out a small skit reviewing all of the things we had seen and done through the trip. It was a bit sad thinking that all the fun would soon come to an end.

Our flight was at 11:30 PM, so we left the hotel shortly after dinner. We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare after saying goodbye to the other members of our group who were on different flights. Everything went smoothly, and soon we were at the gate. I had learned that I was flying on a Boeing 757 which was very exciting for me as these planes are being retired and I had never flown on one before! As our plane took off that night, I saw Quito fade away into the clouds. I knew that unlike the city, that had just disappeared, my memories from the trip never would.

If you know me, you know that I CAN NEVER sleep on planes, but I was KNOCKED OUT all the way back to Miami. From Miami, we took our last flight of the trip back home. It had been an amazing trip, but tiring as well. My symptoms from earlier resolved within a week. Must have been a minor case of food poisoning. The good thing was it happened at the end of the trip instead of at the beginning or middle.

This is the last post about my trip to Ecuador. More posts are on the way about my other trips! Feel free to tell me if there is any specific travel related topic you want me to write about! Stay tuned! Until next time!

 

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