Otavalo Market, the 2 faces

Otavalo is a city located two hours by bus from Quito towards the northeast. It hosts the most open and the most famous handicraft market of the Andes.

This Market is open every days but Saturday is the day that is of course the most touristy.

What can we find there?

There is everything; clothing, livestock, paintings, fabrics, typical objects from the Andes, etc. Here are some photos that speak for themselves.

Without buy, what I did?

This is a really big market. It takes between one and two hours to go around. Although almost all the stalls are similar, can be found on each one details will make a difference. I then whipped out my camera, benefited of colors flooding from all sides. The aisles are narrow and you could imagine in a souk where the fabric hide even the sky.

Most women wear the traditional dress matching of their hat (I must buys me!). I also tried to chat with merchants (I said “tried” because not clear with my Spanish!).

Around noon, short stop at the market bottom where the stands are found to eat. The equipment is basic. A table, two wooden benches and a grill where simmering different things. Everything is traditional, chicken soup, the corn. There are braised pork stalls served with potatoes and fried yucca. This is delicious!

The second faces of Otavalo Market

Like any known place, there is abundant tourist and unfortunately the inconveniences that go with it. Tourism flows each year more and more and so prices become exorbitant. We can easily ask you $90 for a 20 cm² carpet. When we know that we eat for $2 and that an hour by bus costs $1, this is a bit expensive for a mini carpet.

Practically all traders speak directly in English and negotiations are difficult because tourists (mostly Americans) do not play the bargain game.

Finally, the smiles are rare and it is difficult to make portraits without one denies you the photo or asks for money! Something that is not really common here in Ecuador. On the contrary, the people are nice people, smiling and happy to share with you their story.

This is small annoyances compared to the pleasure of wandering the aisles of the market. I just wanted to draw attention to attitudes sometimes taken by tourists (we do!). Respect the customs and the people must be our priority.

So go ahead, enjoy and come back with full of memories, colors and smiles in the head!

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