Friday, July 8, 2011

Ecuador - Equator

Entering Equador was a suprise, with the border hiding around a blind turn.  I crossed at night and found myself in the first town, Tulcan.  I awoke under a mountain of blanlets that I poked my mouth out from under to see that my breath was visible.  I was definitely in a different place.  I walked outside to check my surroundings to find the people wearing ponchos and fuzzy fedoras, women and men.  Mounting up and scooting further into the country, the landscape opened into misty farmlands.  Bundled in all the clothes I had, this awesome park in the middle of an intersection was a welcome break.
There are a lot of old, small cobbled roads that carve there way through the coutryside.  After checking out Cotocachi, famous for its leatherwork, I found this road that connected me to Otavalo.

Otavalo. Arriving here was a treat.  I landed casually on a early Thursday afternoon.  This town is know for its Saturday market, the biggest artesan´s market in South America.It takes up many blocks.
This is for all those sceptics out there, especially the many who insisted that our bikes are too small fo the ride.  This guy has been around.
Jack FM, radio that is.  This guy knows.
The treat came that night, when I realized a growing buzz of excitement.  The annual festival that is held for the celebration for a good harvest to come was being held that night.  Hundereds of Ecuadorians showed up for the festivities.  Dancing, singing, drinking, street performances, and musical parades were all through the streets til 5 in the morning. 
Tons of people were in costume, especially the paraders.
A local drink from sugarcane and fresh fruit juice, heated.  Hangover.
The parades were all similar, with differnt levels of energy.  The dance was like a march but to the Andean rythmns of the pan flute, charango, ron roco and the little keyboard flute thing.  There were all kinds of instruments too. 
This is one of the juice stations.  We stopped buying the 25 cent shots when we found out an entire bottle was $1.25.
Ah, the market.  You never know what you´ll be sitting next to while you eat, pigs´heads, cow hooves, a juice stand, a spice vendor, but its guaranteed to be cheap and a great way to practice some spanish.  Its definitely the local experience.
$1.25 with a juice.
Processions were constant this weekend, day and night.  The form is the same.  They have a marching dance that flows into a circle when an unknown person starts it.  Normally its in the intersection.  Traffic is blocked without a hesitation. There is a girl in a cap that walks through the bottom of the screen, I found out later that she is from Kingsport, Tennessee (small world).
It is said that Otavalo is the place of the biggest artesans´ market in South America.  Its impossible to take a picture, so I took a shot of an old photo to give an idea.
My best friend gave me a belt buckle that I´ve been carrying for almost 6 months.  Finally its found a home.
The popular fashion of doors around these parts.