Tuesday, April 12: Otavalo, waterfall & Cotacachi

Breakfast buffet at the lodge
The day began with a breakfast buffet at the lodge on the lake.
Low hanging clouds

The clouds were very low so we did not get much of a view of the mountains as we drove the 20 minutes or so to the market at Otavalo. When we arrived many of the merchants were still setting up their stalls. However, even early in the morning there was an interesting selection of handicrafts. There were interesting woven wall hangings, stone carvings and even a selection of musical instruments. The gentleman was asking $120 for the 10-string guitar-like instruments.

Woven wall hangings
Woven wall hangings
Stone carvings
Stone carvings
Musical instruments
Musical instruments

Other vendors had other items for sale. The first photo shows a “painting” made with flower petals and leaves. Nancy liked these knit sweaters and thought she might get them for the grandkids. They also had tablecloths decorated with ribbon embroidery. Nan was concerned that the ribbons would pull out if they had to be laundered.

Painting with petals & leaves
Painting with petals & leaves
Knit jackets for kids
Knit jackets for kids
Ribbon=embroidered tablecloths
Ribbon=embroidered tablecloths

This Otovala native woman is wearing a traditional costume: a long black split skirt over a white one, no hat but a piece of cloth on her head to keep the sun off. She was selling decorated potter bowls and gourds. The next vendor specialized in handbags and purses. I was surprised to see vendors selling dream catchers and other items that I tend to associate with Canada’s First Nations people.

Otavalo women's costume
Otavalo women’s costume
Purses and handbags
Purses and handbags
Indian dream catchers
Indian dream catchers

This merchant had some very nice Alpaca sweaters for sale. This man is wearing a traditional male costume. The hair is long and worn in a braid. Men always wear this style of felt hat. He is selling some simple wall hangings. The last vendor was selling very elaborate woven wall hangings.

Adult Alpaca sweaters
Adult Alpaca sweaters
Traditional male costume
Traditional male costume
Elaborate woven wall hangings
Elaborate woven wall hangings

There were several vendors selling sterling silver jewellry. Some of it was very intricate. Prices were quite reasonable if you were a good bargainer.

Our next stop was at a waterfall, Cascade de Peguche. It was a fair walk down to the falls through an area that was so humid that moss and ferns sprouted from the stone wall bordering the path.

The start of the path to the falls
The start of the path to the falls
The river below the falls
The river below the falls
First view of the falls
First view of the falls
The bridge below the falls
The bridge below the falls
Nancy by the falls
Nancy by the falls
Moss & ferns growing on stone wall
Moss & ferns growing on stone wall

Our next stop was at the workshop of Jose Ruiz Perugachi. This family has developed innovative and award-winning designs for tapistries and other textile products. They demonstrated spinning the yarn, dying it using natural dyes obtained from plants and insects and the weaving of tapestries on regular and backstrap looms. The backstrap loom is used for the more intricate tapistries where the individual threads are lifted one-by-one by hand to create the pattern.

The weavers' workshop
The weavers’ workshop
Newpaper coverage
Newpaper coverage
Spinning the yarn
Spinning the yarn
Green dye from a plant
Green dye from a plant
Red dye from insect that lives on cactus
Red dye from insect that lives on cactus
Another way of spinning yarn
Another way of spinning yarn
Weaving using a standard loom
Weaving using a standard loom
Weaving with a back-strap loom
Weaving with a back-strap loom
Lifting threads to create a pattern
Lifting threads to create a pattern

Some of the intricate work done by these artistic weavers.

Fancy sweater with woven design
Fancy sweater with woven design
Large wall hanging
Large wall hanging
Elaborate wall hanging
Elaborate wall hanging

Our next stop was in the town of Cotacachi. Cotacachi is known for its leatherwork. The town is also renowned for its musicians and so there are three statues of musicians near the entrance to town. Both sides of the main street for four blocks are lined with different leather shops. Many of them sell leather jackets and coats. They were asking $100 for the leather shirt in the last photo.

Three musicians
Three musicians
Four block of leather shops
Four block of leather shops
Fine leather shirts & jackets
Fine leather shirts & jackets

Some shops sold a wide variety of leather goods including saddles and tack for horses as well as billfolds, purses, handbags and suitcases. Some stores even had finely finished suit jackets in leather. As I was walking around town I noticed that the garages didn’t have hydraulic hoists to lift cars, they used ramps.

Saddles and tack for horses
Saddles and tack for horses
Fine leather suit jacket
Fine leather suit jacket
Ramps instead of hydraulic hoist
Ramps instead of hydraulic hoist

The rest of the afternoon was spent driving to Papallacta in the Eastern range of the Andes. Unfortunately, the bus was moving rapidly so some of the photos are blurred. As we drove along we saw steps carved in the volcanic ash to provide access to steeply sloped fields. The large structure in the second photo is a brick kiln. The third photo shows some of the field on very steep slopes.

Steps to access field of corn
Steps to access field of corn
Kiln for curing bricks
Kiln for curing bricks
Steep slopes cultivated
Steep slopes cultivated

We stopped briefly at the summit of the pass through the mountains (about 12,000 feet). There was a small shrine there. It provided an excellent view of the surrounding mountains. There were signs along the road warning drivers to be careful because spectacled bears are active in this area. The spectacled bear is the only species of bear found in the southern hemisphere and they are an endangered species.

Shrine at the summit
Shrine at the summit
View from the summit
View from the summit
Caution spectacled bears
Caution spectacled bears

Relaxing in the hot spring
When we reached Papallacta’s and checked into our rooms we got into our bathing suits and took advantage of the hot springs just outside our room.