The Otavalo market, indigenous crafts and livestock


They say travel to Ecuador, and more based on the capital, and not do a 1-day excursion from Quito to the Otavalo market, it would be like having forgotten the "soul" that moves it. The largest market in South America offers the most famous indigenous crafts of the country and although its main fair takes place on Saturdays, we will not leave the opportunity to know its history.

But the day was going to be much more complete, because the boom of the restored haciendas well deserves a review on our way.

Hacienda La Compañía and Mirador de San Pablo

As the daylight hours at this time of the year are from 6 to 18, we have risen early to leave around 8'00 today heading north, unlike yesterday. Our destination is about 2 hours, but halfway there is a Hacienda that claims to grow the best roses in the world. Will we have to stop not Sele?

Like we delight in them in our trip through Jalisco and Guanajuato Last May, in Ecuador we can find places of charm that follow the philosophy a bit of the "network of hostels" in Spain. In this case, the Hacienda The Company belonged to the Society of Jesus and although you can't sleep here, it offers lunches that deserve a stop

Its entrance has strange circles carved in stone, which seems to be the molds with which the monks made the artisan cheeses. From there we access the main neoclassical French style building where María Gloria and Francisco are waiting for us

But if this hacienda stands out for something, as we said in the introduction, it is to grow the best roses in the world and the Hacienda works as a small inspiring museum.

Near the house is the old chapel founded by the order of the Jesuits and has pieces for which the best museums in the world would bid

A small barn, a good explanation of the world of roses and a visit to the plantation complete one of the best visits we have made these days

Do you want to know more about why Ecuador is the largest exporter of roses in the world? Don't miss our dedicated report of the visit to the Treasury of the Society of Jesus

We continue our route north along this slow curve road that borders abrupt formations. In a kind of platform later we stop again. It seems that rituals and ceremonies with offerings were practiced here, although the best are their views of Lake San Pablo and the Otavalo Valley Where we approach

It also grows a very famous old tree called "El Lechero" but this is another story

The Otavalo market for the week

We will surprise no one if we say that the market of Otavalo is considered to be the best of the indigenous and traditional markets in all of South America, something they will have heard hundreds of times. To see it in its maximum splendor, without a doubt, is Saturday its big day, when hundreds of people from different villages come to market different products, crafts and even cattle here. But, What happens if you want to visit it and a weekend does not match you?

The call Ponchos Square It remains open every day of the week. There fabrics, tapestries, ponchos, embroidered shirts in cotton are the star, although you can find real jewels like the hat from Panama (straw hat, original from Ecuador) and some other relics.

The Otavaleño, decimated during the Inca invasion and subsequent Spanish colonization (many of them in the famous expedition in search of El Dorado), is possibly the indigenous who achieved more prosperity in South America, and much of it is based on a strict culture of conservation of all its most ancestral traditions.

They are not difficult to identify. Their long braids or white pants, the men, and their embroidered blouses and numerous necklaces, the women, are characteristic of a tribe with special talent for textile production

The rise of the current Otavalo began around the 60s, when the Otavaleños of the Hacienda Zuleta implemented techniques brought from Scotland, creating the "otavaleño" Casimir of low price and high quality. This is how this tangled maze of colored fabrics and clothes of all kinds…

Is it worth a visit outside the weekend? Absolutely not, unless it doesn't match you within your visit dates. The famous Otavalo market becomes a mere rake and all the charm that it is supposed to give off is reduced to its local people (which is not little). The Otavaleño is possibly one of the closest and friendliest people we have encountered on our trips.

Hacienda Pinsaqui, near the Otavalo market, at the foot of the Imbabura volcano

Otavalo is not the only visit in this area. At the foot of the Imbabura Cotocachi volcano, the city of leather, and San Antonio, the city of wooden handicrafts, are next to the Otavalo market the claims that guests of our next stop presume: The Pisaqui Hacienda.

Unlike La Hacienda La Compañía, this hacienda with three centuries of history, forms with its lodging, lunch an experience in itself, being in its day the largest textile factory for export to the United States. Today it still has charm in every corner and well deserves this stop to meet it and eat something (which the stomach already asks for)

Although perhaps the day does not go much further, and one of the big problems that Quito has are its long lines of entry into the city that are formed at peak times, so we are about to return.

Our stop in The capital of Ecuador has been one of the best options we have taken on this trip, of which there is still much to tell. It is beautiful, attractive and with a charming atmosphere, but also its close possibilities on the same day give to stay up to a week. Tomorrow we set out to fulfill a dream, but that will be another story to tell.

Isaac (and company), from Quito (Ecuador)

EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 40 USD (approximately)