Posted by: jimndianne | December 9, 2009

Otavalo Market, Roses, Around Cotacachi.

7 – 9 December 2009 Ecuador

We have achieved so much in the past three days that we’ve decided to combine three posts into one, or we’ll never get to catch up with the blogs!

Firstly, a bit of info about prices of things up here in Cotacachi and the surrounding areas. Roses are one of the most important052 exports of Ecuador and in particular, of the Cotacachi rural areas. They are among the  most stunning flowers I’ve ever seen and are quite abundant, growing in hothouse-like environments in massive tented areas up here in the hills. As an example, it is possible to purchase 25 full blown roses for just $1.50, although a friend told me she’d managed to buy that amount for only $1! At that price, you can keep your home looking beautiful all the time!

Another inexpensive item here in Cotacachi is food. The hotel we are staying in offers a 4-course lunch or dinner for just $6 and we have also paid just $4 for the same 001 number of courses in numerous restaurants and cafes nearby. Separately, we have had grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for 60c (yes, these are regularly sold here), potato and avocado soup for just $1.20 or a fat hamburger with meat patty, bacon, salad and tomato and chips, for $2. Accompanying most of these dishes for free is often a dish of popcorn and some plantain crisps with a spicy dip. We even found a pizza restaurant. The menu doesn’t look so cheap but the pizzas were huge. We ordered two mediums for the four of us and there was no way we could finish them.

Otavalo Market is the one we missed out on during our Christmas Shopping Trek, due to heavy rain, so we tootled off there with Carol and Jim on the Cotacachi – Otavalo bus, along with many local and indigenous people, all of whom

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were very friendly towards us. The bus was very comfortable with velvety-type seat covers, occasional seat belts, foot rests and lay back seats! For the ridiculous cost of 25c we were taken approximately 7 km for the 20 minute trip. Had we taken a taxi it

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would  have cost the huge amount of $4!! This is the largest indigenous market in the whole of South America, we are told, and covers a city block, having a huge number of stalls offering an amazing variety of goods for sale, mostly hand made. There are large rugs made of Alpaca wool, shawls and scarves, beautiful sweaters (Jim bought a lovely one made from Alpaca wool and cotton for $14), gorgeous hand embroidered linens, belts, hats of all kinds, leather goods, pottery and too many more to name. We four spent several hours there and still had to drag ourselves away to have some lunch. Everyone is readily prepared to bargain and as it is second nature to us we managed to achieve some great bargains, while keeping the stall-holder happy! The jumper that Jim bought is not the one he is wearing here.

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The next day, having seen a nice home on the web that appealed to us, we arranged for a Real Estate agent to show it to us. She was very obliging, collecting us from our hotel and taking us the half-hour drive to Lake San Pablo, about ten minutes from Otavalo. Her English was not too bad but she insisted on picking up a fellow agent with

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very good English language skills in order for us to understand all that was needed to know about the house. The owners have lived in the U.S. for a long time now and only occasionally visit their old family home for a holiday, so have decided to sell it. Located on the shores of Lake San Pablo, it is in a prime location, with uninterrupted views across to the opposite shore of the lake. Although not a new home, it was obvious it would need a good tidy-up, new kitchen, paint, modernised bathrooms and such. The local indigenous folk happily use a separate part of the property to access the lake to allow their pigs and cows to wash and scrounge around and have

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been doing this for years! A caretaker and his family live in this cottage at the rear of the house and take care of the home while the owners are away. There is a Yacht Club just about 100 metres away from the house too. We were very taken with the house and are giving it due consideration as it is well priced. The agent also took us to see a new condominium development, which offered a brand new condo of two bedrooms and two bathrooms for $65,000 or a Penthouse for $95,000… Unbelievable!

Back in Cotacachi, our last day before leaving for the coastal areas, we paid a visit to nearby Leather Street, as it’s known, where the best of leather-goods is found. All locally made, they are very reasonably priced and of excellent quality and although sorely tempted we did not succumb to the fashionable leather jackets, hats, handbags, belts and other goods on offer, our suitcases not being able to bear the strain! More’s the pity…

With time running out we walked a reasonable distance to look at one last new housing development just outside the main town area. One home was almost completed with another 98 in the pipeline, over four separate quadrants, each with its own gated and walled estate. Although quite attractive, the thought of living in a complex with 100 other couples or families does not appeal so we gave that the thumbs down!

Had a fun evening out with Carol and Jim, plus lots of laughs, at a restaurant close by the hotel. We have an early start in the morning travelling by bus down to Quito (2 hours) before catching our flight to Manta, out on the coast, for our real estate tour of that area. Should be fun. Will miss Cotacachi but can’t wait to get back into some summer clothes and have a swim in the sea!!

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