Published: March 25th 2011March 20th 2011
Oh Otavalo! How i love thee! What a place. What a market. What a wonderful feeling to go shopping, like really shopping! Two days of looking through hundreds of vendors stalls with all their goods, some imported others genuine, like the three pairs of genuine leather sandals/shoes I purchased today, yeeeww! Oh and the woolen bags I bought, three to be precise! Not to mention the two gorgeous alpaca woolen blankets (I could have bought 6!) oh and the woolen socks and gloves, bless! Not to mention the to-die for red sombrero I gave in to today after walking past it numerous times and saying 'no'. Oh and I'd better not forget the 20 odd 'oh so' colourful scarves I bought, in a years time when I return folks be aware that this is your present!! Oh and for the boys, I just couldn't resist the gorgeous little woolen jumper for Angus and the sweet as hippie pants for Hamish! I also purchased a pair myself so we can match! So that is pretty much a run down of my purchases. I had fun. I love shopping. Oh how I love to shop! And the best thing?! I sent it off
today for only $108, take that bogota!!
Now onto Otavalo the town, not just the market....and let me tell you there is much more to this town than the market, or is there?! It's quite the buzzing little place full of american stores like yes Hollister! (see photo!) and The Gap etc. There are heaps of restaurants to choose from; local food, cheap chifa's (chinese restaurants) hundreds of internet cafe's and everything else in between. Now I was at he market on a Sunday and Monday, so unfortunately I wasn't able to see what they claim to be as the biggest market in South America, however I was able to see the locals doing what they do best, shopping, or so it seems. Near the town square there was the locals market; cheap clothes, shoes, belts, materials, buttons; you name it, it was there!! There was also the local fresh food market just around the corner selling everything from fruits and vegetables to nuts and seeds and fresh juices! Quite amazing really for your average Monday!
I spent most of my time in the main market; where all the goodies were, the clothes, shoes, bags and blankets, the place
where I spent quite a bit of money and gladly. Although I've heard that the local Otavalan people have started to import a lot of the goods and sell them for about quarter of the price they purchase them for, most of the time I was happy to pay the very reasonable starting price and if I didn't think that was fair, and or that I was paying triple the price I would simply walk away and sure enough within a few seconds they'd be offering me the same item for about 3 dollars less. Combine this with the old 'muy carro para me' or a bit of the old umming and ahhing and after a while you'll get a better deal. They do generally offer you a 'discuenta' of a about one dollar. Basically they just want your business, especially on a quieter day like Monday or Tuesday, which worked out well for me!
When I think about it, Otavalo really is a huge mix of the old and the new. Almost all the women in the town are natives; dressed in their magnificant indigenous clothing. All of the young men have long hair, mostly pulled back in a
pony tail, and the older men wear the amazing sombrero's. So this is the old. Then there's the new. The many internet cafe's spotted around the small town, filled with local kids. This and the assortment of American shops selling everything from NIKE shoes to Hollister sweats combined and you have the mix, however it is one that seems to work well.
Otavalo is a beautiful town set in a beautiful area, it's super close to Quito (only two hours) and there are many many hostels, so many its overwhelming.
If you need a dose of shopping and want to see the Ecuadorian culture at work, make the trip to Otavalo. Not only will you be impressed with the goods, maybe not so impressed with the weather which includes sudden torrential downpours but you'll enjoy your time I assure you. Most backpackers do a day trip from Quito which is absolutely possible, however I recommend spending the night or two and looking around the area. I didn't have the time but I've heard there are some great hikes to explore!
There are more photos below