Posted by: jimndianne | December 5, 2009

Quito and a Christmas Shopping Trek

05 December 2009 Ecuador

The real estate organisers at our hotel threw in what they called a “free Christmas shopping trek” which would take us by modern bus all the way back to the capital city of Quito, where we would have access to a number of specialist shops. We would also be collecting some new arrivals from the Radisson Hotel. Later, on our return to Cotacachi, we would stop off at Otavalo for a good look and some shopping at the largest indigenous market in South America, where prices were very cheap, we were told.

We left our hotel early in the morning in the bus heading off to Quito, the capital. Now the scenery was all new to us as we had travelled this same road two days before but then it was in the dark! On the way there we noticed all types of markets being held, including an animal market. There were many locals walking back to their homes trailing a sheep, goat, cow or pig on a rope. 014 Others were more fortunate in that they had transport, but we were not too sure that the occupants appreciated the ride. Notice some rather large sheep in there plus the odd goat or two!

When we realised how sheer and steep were the drops over the sides of the road we were so glad we’d been unable to see the route we were taking on our way up! With just one lane each way and many slow trucks and buses on the steep road, it was quite hair-raising when a car or truck driver lost patience and decided to pass another when there were ‘no-passing’ double 017 lines on the road. There were many small villages along the way, with homes perched on the sides of the mountains and wild dogs narrowly averting death while crossing the road.

Upon arrival in Quito we were simply amazed at the sheer size of the capital city by day, (not unlike Mexico City), with its widespread areas of housing reaching from a high altitude to right down and across the valley, only to reach right up the sides of other mountains all around. 024 After collecting the other guests, we 025

027 visited a Folk Art shop, which we all found very expensive, and then a wonderful textile store, where a smart wool jacket as well as a poncho were purchased. You can guess who did the buying…  All of this took time, with around fifteen people trying on jackets, hats, scarves and ponchos, etc. so that we were all ready for our next scheduled stop at a nice coffee/chocolate shop in the popular La Mariscal area of town. Sitting outside at a large wooden table and chairs with a passing parade of

028 029

vendors selling everything from Folk Art, to $1 sunglasses to a $12 8GB Memory Stick, we were served hot coffees and warm chocolate brownies with vanilla ice cream, topped with a few strawberries!

Seen on the way out of town, a sign reading: MOTEL FLAMINGO $13 NIGHT

Much to the disappointment of many of us on the bus, just as we neared the market town of Otavalo, we were told that it had been teeming with rain for a number of hours and therefore the visit to the market had to be called off for that day.

During our earlier coffee break in Quito, we had met a very nice couple from Oregon, USA, whose company we enjoyed, so once back in Cotacachi we all decided to have dinner together that evening at our hotel, Meson de las Flores. After a pleasant four- course meal ($US.7) with good conversation and some cheap Italian wine from a tiny corner store, we retired to bed.

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