We came to Otavalo for the Saturday market and, though our first day of exploration was full of predicaments, we stayed for more. It was our first taste of Ecuador and we were smitten. The town is small and humble, its people so incredibly hardworking, yet friendly and compassionate.
El Lechero is a magical healing tree that we went in search of, but never found. The journey took us up and down farms and gave us a small glimpse into how the people on these lands live. Some farmers were tending to their corn fields and livestock while their wives were doing laundry or dishes. A fair number of dogs chased after us, barking and snarling, alerting their owners of our presence, unafraid to back down. One farmer fashioned a whipping stick out of a tree branch for us and wished us safely on our way.
Parque Condor sits on top of a hill and is home to many beautiful species of hawks, eagles, and owls. Curiously, we saw only one condor. He nervously paced back and forth before us and a couple of times spread his wings to show us who's boss. We stayed long enough to catch a demonstration of these birds of prey take flight and admired how majestically they glided through the sky. We wondered what made them always fly back to their trainer and couldn't help but feel a sense of guilt over their loss of freedom. Their wings could take them to such distant lands if only their owners would let them.
To get to La Cascada de Peguche from the park, we took the longest, most obscure path possible. We had asked 3 different people and they each ensured us it was a way to the waterfall. Once on it though, we questioned the last time it was used by a farmer at all, let alone 2 unknowing travelers. The hike took us along barbed-wire fencing, narrow and steep trails, and down a long, soft dirt, mountain bike path. We finally made it just minutes before dark only to later realize that it was along a bus route that we would end up taking over a dozen times.
The Saturday market was a dizzying labryinth of crafts and wall hangings, baskets and hammocks, antiques and stones. I have a weak spot for textiles and wanted one of everything, but settled for a couple of some things. There's only so much we could carry from country to country and for the next several months, I tried really hard to remind myself. The biggest treat was observing the locals come out in their traditional attire. Colorful accessories adorning the ears and necks. Hand-woven belts and hand-embroidered tops. Wool everything from head to toe. Babies strapped to their backs. I was intrigued.