Lucky Day 13
This day was especially exciting because it was Rye’s Birthday!!! For that reason we decided to brave the bus system once again and do something new and exciting…visit the Otavalo Market.
If you’re wondering what is so exciting about that, this is not your ordinary run of the mill market. This place is MASSIVE and a street photographer’s dream. So we were off on an adventure to Otavalo.
We hadn’t taken a bus since our horrendous first trip to Judith’s house, so we were determined to make this trip stress free. However our journey to Otavalo involved 3 separate buses over a 2 and a half hour time span…#ALotOfRoomForError
Riddle me this: If a 30 minute bus ride took us 5 hours, how long do you think a 2 and a half hour bus ride would take us?
We woke up at 5:15 am so we could grab the 5:45 bus. We may have had a little trouble getting going
so early in the morning, which made our new goal the 6:15 bus. We walked up to the bus stop with time to spare and we waited. And waited. People were accumulating so we knew a bus was coming…but when? Judith (who has become like our Ecuadorian/Swiss Mom) was walking by with her dog Res and stopped to chat. It was now about 7am and she was also curious as to where the bus was. After a few minutes Judith offered to have a friend drive us into town and sure enough as she left to make arrangements, the bus rolled up.
When we boarded the bus we sat down right behind the driver so we could communicate with him and the ticket lady. As we were waiting for everyone to board, all of a sodden we heard Judith’s voice out of nowhere. She was speaking to the bus driver to make sure we got off at the right stop. Where did she come from?? It felt like the first day of school when your Mom dropped you off at the bus for the first time, in her Pajamas and was insisting that the bus driver get you to school safely. “MOOMMMM!”
Well it worked out because the driver pulled over for us. We got off at our stop, ran across the street and in minutes we grabbed our second bus. When I say grabbed, I mean literally.
*Hot tip- If you’re not at a station, bus drivers in Ecuador do not “stop” to pick up pedestrians. You have to jump and grab on while its still moving. It’s a little terrifying.
We hopped off our second bus and followed the crowd into a terminal. Now we needed to get on our final bus to Otavalo. This bus station was full of tourists on their way to the market as well! Perhaps we could make friends, but we noticed that for some reason tourists are not as friendly as the locals. Weird.
Tourists stand out like a sore thumb here. It’s easy to spot us, making it easy to start a conversation and help each other out…at least you would think. However this was not the case, they would merely look the other way with a scowl. (obviously not Canadians like Bev & Joyce!) Locals on the other had are eager to talk to you, even if we don’t understand each other! (Perhaps we needed to shower?) All jokes aside we can’t believe this is true and we will be making a stronger effort next time. Too be fair we met some nice young ladies from Maine on the city bus to the terminal. But we kind of did our own thing when we reached the stop. (Shower! We can’t forget to shower!)
Our third and final bus ride to Otavalo was absolutely breathtaking. Looking at the beautiful landscapes of mountains, volcanoes, rivers and valleys breaching through the fog was hypnotizing.
*Hot Tip – If you ever have to drive a massive, two-trailer truck up a super steep mountain road, bring a book! We passed a fella going about 3 km/h who was comfortably reading as he chugged along his way. Now this isn’t something we suggest at home. But at 3 km/h, even with 10 tonnes of cargo, this was much safer than Rob Ford riffling through papers at full speed on the Gardner Expressway!
Finally we reached the market and we were off. At first it was very overwhelming. There were vendors as far as the eye could see. At each booth we passed, the owner would try and entice us to buy their goods. Even if no one was at the table when we stopped to look, someone would pop out from nowhere to show us their fabrics or play their musical instruments.
It was interesting to notice that a lot of the vendors were not necessary selling authentic Ecuadorian items. Many of the tables had the same machine made goods to appeal to their main consumer, the tourist. However if you searched in between the cookie-cutter tables, you would find the authentic gems, artisans selling hand made art works, textiles, clothing and trinkets. Definitely worth the trip to Otavalo. Not to mention all the fresh produce, spices and meats!
After an hour in the market we started to get hungry and stopped for some gelato. The gelato was made fresh by the owner and was the best we have ever tasted. Rye was even given a birthday serenade from the employees! “Feliz Cumpleaños!”
After our 11am dessert we got lost in the streets of Otavalo until we found ourselves back at the center of the market. Such an intriguing and beautiful village.
Since gelato isn’t the most filling we thought we should get some lunch and stopped in a little restaurant to grab a bite. Rye spotted something hidden way down at the bottom of the juice list, “Copa de Whisky” for $5 and immediately added it to the order. What the heck…It was his birthday! Now for $5 we expected maybe 2 shots. Well this turned out to be a huge cocktail glass of at least 5 shots. Needless to say Rye was tipsy after lunch.
Walking around the market with drunk Ryan was a different experience than before. All of a sudden, he was very eager to buy everything. Since we left our jewelry at home, including our wedding bands, we decided to pick up some replacement rings. We found two beautiful silver rings that we were able to bargain down to 2 for $20. Now we’re “married” again! 😀
After about 4 hours in this incredibly diverse market we decided it was time to brave the bus ride home. Hopefully it would be as seamless as the way there. As soon as we arrived in the Otavalo terminal three different dudes were yelling “Quito! Quito?” and pointing to a big bright bus. Apparently that was the way home. Well that was easy. We jumped aboard, headed back to Quito and admired the view once again. The fog had lifted by now and revealed a whole new vista that seemed to go on forever. We made it onto the next 3 buses with ease and decided that we were finally getting the hang of this bus system. We made it home just before dark, exhausted and excited to tell Judith about our experience. The Otavalo market was definitely a site to see and very well recommended by both of us.