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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 10 Sep 2006

Location: Otavalo, Ecuador

MapWe´ve had a weekend away in Otavalo, visiting the largest market in South America during its fiesta. We're not natural shoppers but were still impressed with the huge number of things for sale and did manage to buy a bag for Sue.

We stayed just outside town, which gave me the chance to watch a football tournament between the local barrio teams - a huge event played in the street with proper goals set up and the curbs as touchlines - a long narrow pitch. All accompanied by a mega loud sound system to complete the atmosphere.

The fiesta seems quite low-key: a few bands playing in a huge marquee and a folkloric display of costumes and dancing around the main square (it started an hour late as ever!), which was quite good - Sue was impressed at being able to stand behind the crowd and still see everything.

We went to a peña on Friday night to see an Andean band - 10pm start so quite late for us, band came on about 11pm played for 15mins and then vanished. We then had "hard hat" (as John who suffers blaring dance music all day at work would call it) salsa music until midnight with videos of an Andean boy band draped with scantily clad girls (nothing to do with the music). We then managed about 20 mins of the band, which was quite good, although the free one at the pizza restaurant was better.

Saturday morning is the animal market here, large: pigs (with some lovely piglets), cows, sheep, and small: chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs (to eat) with cute puppies and scrawny kittens (for pets). Have never been so close to so many chickens - hope there´s no bird flu here. Very interesting but not sure we want to go again except to maybe see llamas

Relaxed in the afternoon by heading out to a local beauty spot - La Cascada de Peguche, although we haven´t quite got the hang of the local buses yet - got on one with Peguche on the front, but when we paid, we thought the guy told us it was going the opposite way to Mojanda, a nearby lake, "why not" we thought. We set off in the right direction up into the hills but arrived back in Otavalo 20 minutes later when the conductor demanded more money to go to Peguche - he seemed quite amused by our journey. Fortunately the bus fare here is only 18 cents a go.

We went to the Parque Condor next - for rescued condors, eagles, owls etc. Lovely hill top location with great views and a flying display where the captive eagle was joined by a wild one, described by the bird man as "one of their volunteers".

One of the highlights of Otavalo has been the Pie Shop (Shenendoa) on the Poncho Square - delicious fruit pies and juices!

It's been really nice speaking to family this weekend and catching up on news from home.

Off to the Galapagos tomorrow, so no more updates for a week or so.