Otavalo Market & Peguche Waterfall

Otavalo Market & Peguche Waterfall

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It took four hours, three busses and a cab ride (5 of us in a tiny cab), but we finally arrived in Otavalo after dark. This is the town square.

The town of Otavalo sits about two hours north of Quito. It’s a Kichwa (local indigenous native) community, famous for handcrafts like weaving, sculpture and embroidery. People come from all over for the market, especially on Saturdays. There’s also some great hiking in the area, including  volcanos, lakes — and a waterfall that we wanted to visit.

We wanted to come up the night before and get a hostel. We  didn’t realize what  leaving a city of two million people on a Friday evening would be like. The two hour trip took us four hours, and for the last leg we abandoned the bus system and took a taxi.

Our hostel, Hostal Doña Esther, had a fantastic restaurant, which I highly recommend, and delightful staff. Our room could have been more comfortable, quieter and had more hot water, but the atmosphere in the place was charming. I think there may be better places to sleep in Otavalo.

I didn’t bring my camera, but Craig shot some pictures of the market & the hike:

Kichwa man and woman negotiating a price.
Kichwa man and woman negotiating a price at a booth with spices. Otavalo has a food market, clothing market, handcrafts market, and probably more, all rolled into one giant bustling space.
Colorful handcrafted jewelry.
Colorful handcrafted jewelry. Plus random fruit. That’s what it’s like.
Shopping in the market for hand-embroidered items.
Shopping  for hand-embroidered items. I’m already carrying a giant Alpaca wool sweater for Craig in my shopping bag…which I can’t wait to borrow!
Young Kichwa families crowd the stalls, enjoying the day at the market.
Young  families crowd the stalls, enjoying the day at the market.
This young mother is wearing the traditional costume of an Otavalo Kichwa woman: an embroidered white blouse with lace sleeves, a simple, wrapped piece of dark fabric as a skirt (over a lighter piece as a lining), a hand-woven wrapped belt and matching woven material to wrap her ponytail. Then they add multi-layered gold beaded necklaces, gold earrings, and colored beaded bracelets. A shawl is tied over one shoulder.
Men are less often traditionally dressed, but typically have a long braid, a fedora-like or panama hat, and white shirt.
One street of the market, which goes on for many blocks in every direction. We did not photograph the meat market. You did not want to see that. Trust me.
One street of the market, which goes on for many blocks in every direction.
We did not photograph the meat market. You are welcome.
Here's a traditionally dressed Kichwa woman, with a folded piece of fabric on her head, which is typical of older women.
Here’s a traditionally dressed Kichwa woman, with a folded piece of fabric on her head, which is typical of older women. Note that she’s using a beautiful Pashmina to carry some sort of heavy load on her back. Women typcially go about their day with  a sleeping toddler, bucket of grain, or stack of anvils tied to their backs.
See those white hand-embroidered blouses with lace sleeves on the left? The traditional Kichwa women of Otavalo wear those, with a simple, wrapped piece of dark fabric as a skirt (over a lighter piece as a lining).  They wear hand-woven wrapped belts and use matching woven material to wrap their ponytails. Then they add multi-layered gold beaded necklaces, gold earrings, and colored beaded bracelets. A shawl is tied over one shoulder.  Men are less often traditionally dressed, but typically have a long braid, a fedora-like or panama hat, and white shirt.
See those white hand-embroidered blouses with lace sleeves on the left? It was hard not to buy one. The woman in the center is Kichwa, but probably not an Otavalo native, judging by her dress.
Me (left) and our friend Karin (right) on our way out of town. We were told to follow some railroad tracks to a river, then follow the river to find a beautiful waterfall just ten minutes out of town.
Me (left) and our friend Karin (right) on our way out of town. Karin is Austrian & has traveled all over the world this year, we met her on our way up the side of a volcano last week.
She brought her friend Tim, from Belgium, whom she met on another trek.
We were told to follow some railroad tracks to a river, then follow the river to find a beautiful waterfall just ten minutes out of town.
Otavala from a distance, as we're walking out of town.
Otavala from a distance, as we’re walking out of town.
It took us at least 20 minutes to find anything one might call a 'river,' but we turned at this stream.  No real path to follow, though. See the brush on the left? There was some of that on our side, too. Mostly blackberries, wild roses, and other thorny things. OUCH!!! That's when I realized... we're just wandering around the Ecuadorian backwoods by ourselves. People back home would think I was nuts!
It took us at least 20 minutes to find anything one might call a ‘river,’ but we turned at this stream.
No real path to follow, though. See the brush on the left? There was some of that on our side, too. Mostly blackberries, wild roses, and other thorny things. OUCH!!!
That’s when I realized… we’re just wandering around the Ecuadorian backwoods by ourselves. People back home would think we were nuts!

 

Finally we found the path, and then this, which looks much more like a Bridge of Death when you're on it than it does in this picture. I also had to cross a gorge on a tiny Incan aquaduct at one point. I'm afraid of heights. Terrifying.
Finally we found the path, and then this, which looks much more like a Bridge of Death when you’re on it than it does in this picture. Craig had to talk me through the last few steps.
I also had to cross a gorge on a tiny Incan aquaduct at one point. I’m afraid of heights & was terrifyied. Karin was very supportive, even though she is as fearless as she is friendly.
Now we're getting close to the waterfall! Families are enjoying this pool nearby.
Now we’re getting close to the waterfall! Families are playing in this pool nearby. Are these the Ecuadorian brigands we’re supposed to be afraid of?
This little stone pool is filled with lightly bubbling spring water. The family who left their clothes there are inside, but you can't see them. The waters here are sacred, supposed to be healing.
This little stone pool is filled with lightly bubbling spring water. The family who left their clothes there are down in the pool. The waters here are sacred, supposed to be healing.
The path widens and is lined with stones. A campground full of tents is above us.
The path widens and is lined with stones. A campground full of tents is above us and the waterfall has appeared in the distance.
The Peguche Waterfall (cascada). Lovely!
The Peguche Waterfall (cascada). Lovely!
Craig and I waited in line and climbed up the wet slippery stones for this photo op in front of the falls.
Craig and I waited in line and climbed up the wet slippery stones for this photo op in front of the falls.
On the way home, we saw this dog guarding the roof of a building. Quito is full of "sky puppies" who live on rooftops!
On the way home, we saw this dog guarding the roof of a building. Quito is full of “sky puppies” who live on rooftops!

 

Published by Lauren

I'm a nomadic freelance writer, out enjoying the world!

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