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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Otavalo - Peguche, Lechero

A quick and easy flight from Loja to Quito, bus waiting for me at the airport in Quito, dropped me at the side of the road where I waited a bit for the bus to Otavalo. Pretty easy trip from one end of the country to the other. Nice to be back in Otavalo. And nice a to be back at hostal Riviera-Sucre, one of my favourite accommodations.

The hummingbirds were still zipping around the garden

and a new group of travellers were in residence. There was a couple from Taos, New Mexico who had brought folding bikes and used them to explore the local area where ever they were. I've often considered this and it was inspiring to see someone doing it. They just sold the bikes when they were ready to go home. There was young John and Amanda from Ontario with no fixed address.

She is a substitute teacher and he a carpenter and they do house sitting. They've been all over the world doing that. Also inspiring. Sally was from Edmonton and we did some things together around the area. One day we explored one of the indigenous communities where a lot of crafts are made that are sold at the big market and where there is a lot of agriculture.


John and Amanda

Separating seeds from something
As we wandered the community we periodically heard machine sounds from inside some buildings, kachunk, kachunk. Peering between the planks on one such we discovered the weaving machines cranking out textiles. I knew that the mountains of the textiles that were for sale in the market couldn't have all been done by hand but was relieved that they were made locally. This being the lead up to Carnival, there was a particularly festive atmosphere and there were all sorts of activities going on in the community. We watched a spirited basketball game for a while saw that there was also a futbol tourney in progress and the particular form of volleyball that they play and is very popular. We also saw posters around for a musical performance that evening and made plans to attend. That turned out to be, well, interesting. The event took place in a cavernous, open sided structure that must have held a few hundred people. I didn't see any other foreigners. There was a huge stage and sound system, big screen monitors, all very high tech.

The performances were preceded by long celebratory speeches by local dignitaries at uncomfortably loud volume but the music was disappointing. It was either avant garde, or trying to be and not succeeding very well, at least by my standards, or sort of new age indigenous.

I liked the more traditional of the performances best.

We left at about 11:00 and people were still coming in. I think they must have gone on all night.

One day I did a nice walk to El Lechero, an ancient, supposedly sacred gum tree.

The tree is said to renew the energy of those who touch it. Legend has it, El Lechero and nearby Lago San Pablo are the remains of two lovers from ancient rivaling families who were trying to escape to live freely with one another. They were caught in their attempt, and the lovers turned into the tree and lake—-always to remain side by side. You can see all three of the valleys’ volcanoes from this spot.

Volcan Imabuae, 4630m

The tippy top of Volcan Cayambe, third highest mountain in Ecuador, 5790m



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