One of the reasons we spent three full days in Quito was because I (the travel coordinator) wanted to make sure The Pack of Four arrived for our Galapagos cruise refreshed. In 2010, when My Liege and I went to Peru, our plane from Houston to Lima was delayed 5 hours, making for an 8-hour layover. By the time we arrived in Lima, it was 4 a.m. and we were beyond exhausted. We spent a full day seeing the city, then had to get up ultra-early the next morning to catch a 7-hour bus ride to Nazca. I figured, this trip, I’d add an extra day just in case a flight was delayed again. It wasn’t. So we used that extra day to day trip. Our B&B, Casa Aliso, arranged a driver and van for us, a very nice fellow who picked us up bright and early on Day 4 and drove us to Otalavo so we could visit the Indian markets.
Travel Tip! There are many tour companies which offer full-day excursions to Otalavo and Cotacachi, the leather town we also visited on Day 4. The benefit of taking one of these tours is that you’ll have a guide as well as a driver, or maybe a driver who also acts as a guide, and the guide will describe the countryside and customs, etc. in great detail as you’re proceeding to your destination. The benefit of just hiring a driver is that you’ll pay far less. And, if you’re nice like us, you’ll buy him lunch.
Our driver let us out at another equator crossing site, stopped to show us the volcanoes (too bad it was such a foggy day), and also a very lovely lake. I was blamed for the fog, by the way. And any rain we encountered throughout the trip. Let it be known that travel coordinators are in charge of such things! We are, after all, minor gods (or goddesses, take your pick).
Finally, after enjoying the tour through the lovely countryside, we arrived at Otalavo just as the market was opening. This market is, of course, primarily for tourists, and it’s fun haggling with the Ecuadorians, whom we found to be thoroughly pleasant and enjoyable people. The price starts higher than both you and the vendor know you’re willing to pay. For example, My Liege (see blog legend if you’re confused) wanted a pair of light cotton pants to wear on the cruise. The bargaining begins!
Travel Trip! Don’t drop your drawers in an artisan and craft market unless you’ve been running three times a week and have “nice shins.”
I was so embarrassed by Steve’s actions that I had to hide:
Travel Tip! There’s nothing wrong with purple. For ease of packing the fewest clothes possible, it makes sense to color-coordinate them. Yes, it does! Don’t argue with me! Although, next time, maybe try something less noticeable and not as apt to attract teasing. Like scarlet.
For those of you wondering who I’m talking to, it’s my muse, Elle. She’s the graphic up in my website banner. See her taunting me with her svelte self? She has a whip, but it’s invisible. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t know how to use it. I can assure you, she does.
After buying a ton of stuff in Otalavo, our driver took us to the nearby town of Cotacahci, which is devoted almost exclusively to selling leather products. I mean, there are streets of ONLY leather shops. Shops filled with purses, jackets, and footwear. Thankfully, there was also an ATM. I bought a new purse, and the rest of The Pack bought leather jackets. I thought, “Fools! How will they get them back home?” Easy. They wore them. Ha, joke was on me. The Pack tried to get me to buy a pistachio green (not purple) leather jacket at the last minute, but I couldn’t handle the pressure.
Cotacachi was great fun. If you’re in the market for leather while visiting Quito, don’t miss a trip to Cotacachi. We bought our driver lunch there and then it was time to head back to Quito. On the way back, it POURED.
We arrived back at Casa Aliso with everyone except moi complaining that their rain jackets weren’t rain proof. But guess what? My purple rain jacket was! Take that, Rembrandt.
The morning of Day 5, we hopped another taxi to take us to the Teleferico, a cable car in Quito that whisks you from 2900 to 4000 meters above sea level in 8-10 minutes (Americans, do the math—that’s high!).
Oh, fiddle on a frog’s lips, I forgot to give Rembrandt (otherwise known as BP) photo credit for the rain picture up above. You know, this photo credit stuff is way too much trouble. I’m giving it up.
Travel Tip! Try to visit the Teleferico on a blue, sunny morning. Then you’ll have wonderful views, and maybe it won’t hail on you when you’re trying not to pass out while hiking at high altitudes. On the other hand, if the day looks like it might hold a bit of rain and fog, just pack your trusty purple rain jacket in your day pack, make your husband carry the pack, and you’ll be set.
Soon, however, this is what it looked like:
Returning to town after riding the Teleferico back down proved a challenge. Our taxi had disappeared (not that we had asked him to stay), and, it appeared, none wanted to make the trip up to get us. Honestly, it was as frustrating as being on The Amazing Race. We had two chances at taxis, but gave up the first one to the people first in line (Canadians are so polite) and then gave up the second one to a family with a mother who REALLY needed us to let her have the taxi, or her husband might not have survived the night.
Eventually, a tourist van rescued us and took us to the vicinity of the Central Bank National Museum, which is well worth a visit. We were hungry and the restaurant was closed, so we ate with the Ecuadorians in a little cafeteria around the corner. Not sure what we ate, but it went down and didn’t come back up, so all was well.
The next morning, we boarded a plane for…ta-da!…the Galapagos!
Oh, dear, I’ve stumbled onto Day 6 with the above picture. Bad blogger. I shall have to stop now. Nothing like a cliffhanger to keep them coming back, don’t ya know? 😉