The Famous Otavalo Market

Early this morning I hopped on a 2 hour, $2 dollar bus through the Ecuadorian countryside to the city of Otavalo for its famous Saturday market. Local Otavaleños and indigenas from nearly seventy surrounding villages fill almost one third of the city with their wares and crafts. The market has been recurring for hundreds of years and despite the constant influx of tourists, the Otavaleños have stayed culturally unwavering.

The most noticeable aspect of culture is the traditional uniform that nearly everyone is wearing. Women wear lovely embroidered blouses with long navy wrap skirts and men sport ponchos and black felt sombreros. Both sexes top off the look with long silky black hair, the men with a carefully plaited braid and women have theirs wrapped in decorative cintas. Whether its savvy business acumen or genuine culture, the overall experience is very charming.

After three hours of shopping, all I came out with was a homemade string bracelet and a couple of corn doughnuts. There were many trinkets that I would have loved to bring home, but I’m not sure a decorative harp would fit in my backpack.

The decorative harp I fell in love with and a pork lunch I considered

The bread section of the market and the Chuch of El Jordan with shoe-shine men

Merchants in training

Some of the colourful corn and spices for sale

You could actually buy everything from remote controls to traditional blouses

Dream catchers and pan flutes made me think of my parents

Even underwear with interesting slogans were for sale

Checking out the street food - salted corn and potatoes, a classic combo

Arrrr, pirate!

A good example of the beautiful Otavaleño hair

The fruit section of the market. I had the urge to make the biggest fruit salad

More colourful wares for sale

My tasty doughnut lunch. They were so rich I couldn't eat them all so I gave the rest to an elderly beggar lady

"Panama" hats (actually originating in Ecuador) and used shoes

I got a couple of looks that were very similar to this one