Markets at Otavalo!
Otavalo Travel Blog› entry 23 of 71 › view all entries
We got up early in Pasto and got on a bus to Ipailes which is right at the border between Colombia and Ecuador. We had heard from past travellers that Ipailes was a very unattractive town, and this was backed up by our Footprints guidebook - however on getting there we both agreed that it was far better than Pasto and also wasn´t as polluted either! We passed some fantastic scenery on the way down through a deep gorge. The landscape was much like the Canterbury region back home with barren hills and clear rivers. Really nice!
Once we arrived we got a taxi to the Santurary of the Virgin of Las Lajas, a large church built in the weirdiest place. I had seen pictures beforehand, but did not imagine it to be in the location it was. I expected there to be roads on either side, but instead it has been built at the bottom of a canyon (of the Guaitara River to be exact)! So bizarre! We still had our packs, and had to carry them the 15 mins down to the actual church itself from the road.
The church itself is very gothic in style, and very very beautiful. The inside is quite stunning also, although was too scared to take any pictures as there were so many people in there praying. We took turns at having a look around, while one of us looked after our bags. There were also lots of plaques on the walls leading to, and around the church which explained miracles the church is acclaimed for. There were so many and I wish we knew more Spanish to read some of them.
We then hiked all the way back up and caught another taxi for the border to Ecuador. The border itself is really strange. I guess we imagined that it would be barred up somehow, but infact it´s a road with police directing traffic and offices on either side.
Another taxi ride later and we were at the bus terminal of Tulcan in Ecuador. We had barely got out of the taxi and had 2 guys asking where we were going, saying ¨Otavalo¨ they grabbed our bags from the boot and ran towards a bus rolling away. We hadn´t even paid the taxi driver yet! One of the people from the bus ended up doing so as the taxi driver didn´t have enough change for us (a common occurance in Ecuador so we have been told) and we ran and jumped on the moving bus.
We arrived in Otavalo and got a taxi to the hostel which we found was full, so had to walk to another anyway. We grabbed something to eat and then went out to have a good look at the markets. As it was Saturday the streets were packed full of vendors. Plaza de Ponchos was full of stall holders, there is just too much to have a look at! We ended up buying some jumpers made from Alpaca wool, a decorated knife, and chess set. Another thing that struck us - people here speak some English! Amazing!
The Otavalo Indians are also everywhere, they are so beautifully dressed.
The markets comprise of bright colours, so pretty to look at. There are artifacts from all over Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia in every colour you can imagine!!
We are off to the capital, Quito tomorrow. It is only 2 hours away so we will leave later as we need to have a good look around the markets once more!
Money (based on 2 people)
- Bus ticket Pasto - Ipiales $12,000 COP
- Taxi from Ipiales bus station to Las Lajas - $8,000 COP
- Taxi from Las Lajas to border with Ecuador - $15,000 COP
- Taxi from border to bus station - $3.
- Bus ticket from Tulcan to Otavalo - $6.00 USD
- Lunch - $5.00 USD
- Accommodation - $10.00 USD
- Shopping - $55.00 USD (ie Alpaca top $13.00 USD etc)
Total: $95.50 USD