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18 September 2012 / leggypeggy

Let’s go shopping—Otavalo, Ecudaor


Shawls are popular and colourful

Otavalo, north of Quito, is a commercial success story and colourful too.

For centuries, rich volcanic soils have made this area rich in farming communities. But a rise in tourism and the popularity of local handicrafts have helped to create a thriving market.

Saturday is the big day, when up to a third of the town is taken over by stalls selling textiles, jewelry, musical instruments, blankets, leather goods, fake shrunken heads, indigenous costumes, hand-painted items, purses and bags, clothing, spices, food and spools of wool. There are lots of local shops, too, where prices seem higher and the quality can be better.

But you don’t have to come on a Saturday. We arrived on a Monday afternoon and found an abundance of choice and plenty of not-too-pushy salespeople.

They were congregated in the main market square, called Plaza de los Ponchos (Plaza of the Ponchos). The square, which was about half full when we arrived, was designed and built in 1970 by a Dutch architect. It has 90 mushroom-shaped ‘stalls’ with circular benches, and room for countless other makeshift operations.

We had a quick run-through yesterday, but that was just a starter. We strolled past in the evening. About 10 food stalls were set up that hadn’t been there earlier in the day. We bought dinner—four empanadas—for $1.40. We’ll be back tonight.

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  1. Tina Casey / Sep 19 2012 8:29 am

    Hi Peggy, what a great blog.. This is Tina,(UK) one of your passing travellers from Quito. How are yyou n John doing? We enjoyed Otavalo but are loving where we are at Banos.It’s very pretty, tranquil and tourist-friendly. We are still thinking about Galapagos and will need to see how we can include in our very tight schedule.,Hope you’re having fun. tina x


    • leggypeggy / Sep 19 2012 8:40 am

      Hi Tina — So great to have you drop in. Glad you are enjoying the blog. We had an amazing three-village tour in Otavalo today—watch for a blog entry. Heading to the Amazon tomorrow for three days and then Banos. I bet you will have moved on by then. Happy travels and hope you make it to the Galapagos.


  2. JoJoJury / Sep 19 2012 12:52 pm

    Hi, Peggy,

    I haven’t had time to read all your e-mails since Bill had his surgery. He is doing fine. We went down to dinner in the dining room for the first time since surgery last Tuesday. Has an appointment with surgeon tomorrow.

    I have a question- Need to enter a recipe for an exotic or unusual drink from Australia. Surely you should be able to help me out with that! It has been long enough since we were there that I don’t remember if we were served any drink found only in Australia!! Sounds as though you are having a great trip. Hope you can help me out with this unusual request!!

    Love, Jo


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