Where We Be
|View from our rooftop terrace looking towards central Otavalo, with Volcano Imbabura behind
|We met a friendly English couple at Condor Park and ended up sharing a taxi ride with them. They invited us to join them for lunch at the hacienda where
they were staying, Hacienda Cusin near Laguna de San Pablo. What a fine meal, and what a pleasant way to get a taste of hacienda living in Ecuador.
Otavalo is home to the most famous indigenous
crafts market in Ecuador. Saturday is the big
day, when nearly one third of the town is filled
to overflowing with stalls selling textiles,
jewelry, wood carvings, leather goods, and all
manner of trinkets and handicrafts. Frankly it
can be a little overwhelming! Still, we got out
and did our shopping duty, wandering down
endless rows of stalls selling pencil cases,
sweaters, rugs, wall hangings, fake shrunken
heads, and who knows what else. Personally, I
enjoyed meeting the people behind the stalls
more than the shopping. They were invariably
friendly, not pushy, and had a smile for you
whether you bought something or not. Otavalo
itself was larger and a bit more citified than we
had expected, but we liked the view from the
rooftop terrace of Hostal Chasqui, where we
could see the surrounding peaks of Imbabura,
Cotacachi, and Mojanda volcanoes.
|And then there's this little cutie! Not sure why he's here at the Condor Park but he sure is adorable.
|These Black Chested Buzzard Eagles look quite intent on something -- a mouse?
|Robin gets to hold the American Kestrel on her gloved hand
|This little fella is an American Kestrel -- we've seen them in the Western U.S. hovering in the air almost motionless while searching for prey
|This Aplomado Falcon shows off his gorgeous plumage. Aplomado Falcons were reintroduced to the Southwestern U.S. beginning in the 1990s.
|We saw Harris Hawks just like this one at a similar free flight demo at the Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona
|The other highlight of Condor Park was getting to watch the free flight demonstration, with hawks, falcons, and eagles (including this
majestic bald eagle) taking part, but not the condors. Once this eagle was let loose he kept flying free for a good hour or more!
|Like many Ecuadorian cities, Otavalo has spread out to fill its valley from one end to the other, with little green space left behind
|Andean condors are BIG, and their heads are vulture-like and (dare I say it?) ugly -- or at least highly unusual
|This photo gives you a good feel for many of the simpler restaurants in Ecuador, catering primarily to Ecuadorians, not tourists.
The ambiance is minimal but the food is good and inexpensive. The same "platos tipicos" (typical plates) tend to appear on most menus.
|View of the central plaza looking away from the church
|The street outside Hostal Chasqui sweeps upwards towards the surrounding hills and volcanoes
|Our room at Hostal Chasqui offered a balcony, rooftop terrace,
wifi, hot showers, and reasonable comfort for $20 per night
|During our second day in Otavalo we took a cab up a steep cobbled road about 4 km to Condor Park, which
is a rehabilitation center for raptors. One of the highlights was getting to see Andean condors up close.
|The central plaza is open and inviting -- as is true in nearly every Ecuadorian town and city
|This stall is representative of hundreds more like it, with friendly owners selling colorful woven goods, often handmade,
at reasonable prices. We bought two hammocks here. Note the traditional Otavaleño clothing worn by the woman.
|Otavalo is particularly known for its textiles. Nearby villages are
known for other specialties like wood carving or leather goods.