It was very exciting walking the labyrinth of street stalls in the Handicraft market absorbing all the colours and magnificent fabrics. The souvenirs themselves are quite tacky, and every single store seems to sell the same thing. When we were in Peru and Bolivia we held back on purchasing too many souvenirs and fabrics, as we would have had to carry them on our backs for seven months. We’ve met many people that have sent boxes of goodies home, and the best place to do this apparently is Bolivia. Had we known this then we may have bought more while we were there, and sadly we wish we did. We kept saying to ourselves in the markets of Pisac and La Paz, “If we wait until Otavalo to buy stuff then we don’t have to carry everything for so long”. It was a practical idea but now that we were in Otavalo there were so many little souvenirs that they didn’t have which we had seen in the southern Andes and wanted so badly. Silly us! We should have stuck to our motto of “Seize the moment!” and taken the opportunity when it was available. Nevertheless we were more interested in the textiles at Otavalo and picked up a few to take home, including a beautiful handmade hair ribbon which a local lady taught Iain to put in Treeny’s hair so she can look like the lovely ladies of Ecuador.
Only a short, bumpy, bus ride away from Otavalo is the quiet village of Cotacachi. Famous for it’s leather handicrafts, Cotacachi holds a very formal Religious Procession where local women and men dress in their best outfits and walk to the main Cathedral holding effigies as offerings to Christ. The huge and heavy effigies of Christ and Mary were dramatic and covered in bright flowers. The mood was quite somber until one of the effigies became stuck on an overhead power line. It was such a wonderful and exciting day, seeing the locals perform this yearly pilgrimage to the church, and the vibrant colours and atmosphere that turned a melancholic activity into something so captivating. By the time we made it back to Otavalo that evening we were privileged enough to witness another event, a much more theatrical and solemn procession in the candlelight. The towns people gathered to form a convoy following the priest and the primary effigy to outposts scattered around the town that would perform, in full costume, a moment in Christ’s life as depicted in the bible.
Click here to see our colourful photos of Otavalo.
Next stop we head almost back to the Amazon to visit the watery Ecuadorian wonderland of Baños de Agua Santa.