This is Elise. We had a great day of sightseeing today. I also saw my first woman peeing in the street. I have seen hundreds of men peeing on the side of the road. They don't even make an effort to find a bush. The woman was an old indigenous indigent person who looked like she was having an accident on the sidewalk then squatted over the storm drain and let it rip. This was in the town of Cotacachi, Ecuador, near our beautiful hacienda. So, watching public urination was not the highlight of my day. That was the market at Otavalo and watching a bald eagle fly directly overhead with the Andes in the background. Otavalo is famous for it's market on Saturday. The variety of alpaca scarves was amazing. I wanted to buy them all. At $7 per thick, silky soft, shawl it was hard to say no. I ended up just getting three. The beaded necklaces and bracelets were calling to me too. I didn't find any tapestries that I liked though. There were piles of chicken carcasses and feet. The whole pig carcass on display grossed us out. The indigenous Ecuadorians wearing traditional clothing were all over. They are a very short people. There was a beggar man who was literally the same height as Sierra. I gave him a dollar that no one else would take because a little corner was missing. He didn't want it either and gave it back to me.
Next we went to Parque Condor to see some Andean condors but the signs directing us there were misleading and we got lost. We tried to go up a dirt road that even our cuatro por cuatro couldn't handle. We had to back down the road and try to find another way. We caught the tail end of the flight show in time to see a bald eagle flying around. What a majestic bird. We walked around the park with increasing speed as we realized we were getting bit by some blood sucking insects. I marveled at the plants in the park. Inpatients five feet tall with branches as big as my wrist. Geraniums in a pink/purple variety I have never seen. Like some alternate universe with all the plants you know but with a twist. Finally we find the star of the show, the Andean condor, a gigantic bird that I had never seen before. We hightailed it back to the car, fighting off insects. Those were the only biting insects we have encountered since we reached a higher elevation back in Colombia.
It is very different in Ecuador than in Colombia. The people look totally different and the Spanish is easier to understand. I spent my first week in the Colombian coffee district feeling like a had been transported to 1960's Italy. Their Spanish sounded like Italian to me and I understood it about as well. There is a lot of poverty here. A lot of graffiti and stay dogs. Not much litter though. The people are very friendly. I feel very lucky to finally get to stay on a hacienda. I have been wanting to for months but they were booked up or too expensive. The food here is gourmet and the hosts take great care of us.
We booked our trip to the Galapagos yesterday (Friday) and we are flying out tomorrow. I can't believe we are going. I feel like I haven't done enough research, so I guess we will wing it. We are hoping to book excursions and maybe a cruise once we are there. We can do it for a fraction of the cost of what it would take if we were arranging this from the States.
|The outfits worn detail clan, status, region|
|We bought alpaca shalls from this lady|
|The market was packed with people and goods|
|This lady was selling a mat|
|We like the views here|
|This is an adult woman standing next to Sierra.|
|impatiens usually have very thin stalks|
|an eagle trained to come back to the man's arm|
|Some parts of the market were crammed with vendors and wares|
|We heard many of the indigenous peoples speaking their native tongue|
|Most of the items available are handmade by local artisans|
|Andean condors have a wingspan of 10 feet|
|It felt so cool to see this ancient market still going strong|