Day 7-9 in Otavalo

We left Papallacta at the leisurely time of 2:00 so everyone could enjoy the hot tubs and get their spa treatment. We also weren't in any big rush to arrive at the next location since we would be there for 3 days and it was another luxury 'resting' point.

We had about a 4 hour drive to Otavolo and as far as I remember the drive was just fine, until we got close to our destination. We were staying at Hotel Ali Shungu mountain top lodge and let me tell you it was nothing shy our mountain TOP. We first headed up the correct road, but after going a little ways the driver or guide, not sure which, decided that wasn't the correct road, so we turned back around and headed up another road. (Problem: there was a HUGE ditch and it looked very iffy as to whether we would make it). As soon as we plowed our way through the ditch there were some local around the corner that were just laughing at us and when we asked them if we were on the right road they just laughed and pointed to the road we had just come from and said that had been the correct road, so reverse!

Once we arrived at Ali Shungu it was beautiful! We had 2 full houses. This hotel came with breakfast and dinner and 2 hours of horseback riding every day. The food was excellent and the little 12 year old girl that served us was beautiful and very mature.

Otavolo is known for their animal and commodities market that happens every Saturday. The animal market happens very early so we were up at 6:00 and headed down the mountain by 7. The animal market was quite a site. We saw pigs, goats, sheep, rooster, you name it on leashes. We also saw chickens, roosters, guinea pigs, and more in sacks. It was certainly an experience, but a very stinky one at that.

Next we hit the commodities marketplace where we walked around to look at all the homemade goods. We ended up getting Blythe several band piece, maracas, a rain stick, a drum, and a shaker. This made for really fun and noises car rides for the rest of the trip! Jason found a hat, and a sword made from an animal tooth. I found a necklace that I was interested in, but the guy was being stubborn and wouldn't go down the .50 I wanted so I walked away ( I know, typical Monica to not purchase anything).

After the market we headed back to the mountain to take our 2 hour horse back ride...unfortunately it rained and the ride was cancelled, but we had a great time playing countdown.

The next morning Becky, Rachel, Blythe, Nathan, and I headed to church and to a few of the small local towns around Otavalo. We had heard of a few master weavers that were a must see. Jim, Byron, and Jason decided to stay at the mountain top and do their 2 hours horse ride (we had to go in sessions because there were only 4 horses). The first weaver we went to was Jose C. he showed us how he weaved and I am sure had other very intellectual things to share, but Blythe found hats so you know where I was! She must have tried on 20+ hats, oh and the face she made when she model them was priceless! In the end we all found either a rug or a wall hanging from him to bring home. We have a tapestry from Spain that is hanging in our room so I thought a tapestry from Ecuador would be appropriate (I guess this means I am collecting them now). I decided on a white and grey tapestry with a pre-Columbian frog, you'll just have to come see it.

Next we headed to another weaver, this weaver does it old school style where as Jose C. was a mix of traditional and new aged. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, Blythe fell asleep on the way to his place so I sat in the car with her for an hour and a half while she napped. Apparently he was amazing and even made his own thread! He was quite a site to see, per Becky, Rachel, and Nathan.

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