Authors: Avery & Jody
Drifting through the aisles of the tents, I felt like I was in Maui at the swap meet. I felt my Mom's slippery hand in the wet, cloudy day as we were pushing through the crowd. I smelled the fresh rain dripping off the tents. I saw kids helping their parents sell cultural goods like pan flutes, paintings, and llama wool tapestries. In every direction I heard the sellers yelling, "One dollar, one dollar, one dollar, two dollars, two dollars, two dollars!" Smelling juicy fruit and slippery veggies made my mouth water. At the end we went back to the hostel and tasted the sweet bread, juicy cherries and the seedy grapes. I couldn't believe how big the market was and how much work the sellers had to put in.
We arrived in Otavalo just as the sun went down, and after finding the hostel (so many Una Via's) and secure parking, we headed out for dinner. Arriving at night to any town often doesn't lend itself to getting a full appreciation for the place. We all hit the sack pretty early, where down a few blocks, the market we would be attending the next day had already started to set up.
We awoke at 7 because we could hear noises out of our front facing window. As we drew back the curtains, we saw the market had now expanded outwards all the way to our road about 3 blocks away. It was now in full force!
We left the hostel and entered a National Geographic magazine photo. Traditionally dressed Indigenous Ecuadorians set up booths and were ready for sales. Unlike other places we've been though, the Ecuadorians left you alone after you declined buying their wares. They are very respectful people.
As we travelled through the market, it quickly became apparent the market was organized by what was being sold - spices, fruits, textiles, weavings, toys, shoes - each with it's own aisles or section of the market. Not sure if this was how this was originally organized or has just evolved this way over time, but it sure was neat to see!
The colours of the market were stunning! Weavings, alpaca wool scarves and oil paintings added a burst of colour against the dreary day. As we approached noon, the smells of traditional street foods filled the air. Ladies sat on curbs plucking kernels of corn from their ears while other shelled beans of all varieties. Still others wandered through the aisles selling mangos and cherries from wheelbarrows.
We all found the day to be VERY enlightening. Dave and I loved that we were both observers and participants within a unique part of Ecuadorian culture. Meghan loved the colours and appreciated the craftsmanship she saw. Avery, as she explained above, appreciated the hard work that goes into the market.
And as for that market, well, as we were going to bed at 9 pm, the last stalls were being taken down from the road. A catchy little tune echoed down the street as the street cleaner came along clearing any remnants of what happened throughout the day away. Of course, until next Saturday.
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).