Just a two hour bus ride north from Quito is an enchanting small town called Otavalo, elevation 2550m, population 50 000. The town itself is again set amidst mountains and two volcanoes as its backdrop, Cotacachi and Imbabura.
It is famous for its tremendous Saturday market – that dates back to pre-Inca time – and its traditionally dressed indigenous people, as well as its locals who dress a bit more conventional as we know it. The indigenous men and women known as ‘Otavalenos’ both wear long single pigtails, usually braided as well as rope sandals. The women are striking and wear beautifully embroidered blouses and long black skirts. The Saturday market extends for blocks and blocks selling everything you can imagine from handcrafts to prepared food to spices to vegetables to leather belts to carvings, hammocks, beads, paintings, shawls, clothing, shoes, jewellery, etc.
The market itself takes over the town on Saturday and many Ecuadorians flock to the town for a weekend getaway. It is a magnificent sight seeing the market, not to mention the tear-down of it; I could have watched it for hours, well I did. Most people do not have cars or even trolleys, just pure muscle and strength, and big burlap sacks to carry everything in, they must weigh 80 pounds – astounding.