Every Saturday morning droves of tourist buses come in with foreigners from around the globe to Plaza de Ponchos in the center of Otavalo. This is one of Ecuador’s largest markets filled with Kichwa people full of alpaca and wool goods, ponchos being the most famous of buys. The region is known for it’s textiles and has been successful both locally and internationally. Aside from the textiles are jewelry, wooden carvings, paintings of the region, and other crafts. Compared to other Latin American markets vendors the Otavaleños are quite friendly, photogenic, and not aggressive. We would hang around one vendor and try on various clothes for a few minutes at a time and not purchase but still seriously be looking to purchase and the vendors while disappointed weren’t in any way rude unlike other places we’ve lived and visited.
Aside from shopping there’s great food choices at low prices. While we didn’t find any guinea pig bbq we we’re able to find some of our own favorites from the Phililppines including lechon. For $2 a plate we got some delicious huge peas, orange potatoes, and a good portion of pork and the crispy skin. A taste of home is exactly what we needed. For fruit we snagged a bag of strawberries for a dollar and 4 apples for the same. We spent a couple of hours total wandering around through the square before deciding to head back to our hotel.
We didn’t come home empty handed though. Cam got a bag for $10 and we each got a poncho for $17.50 each. Of course like most markets we would have loved to stuff our bags silly with these colorful goods and souvenirs but given the lifestyle of a backpacker, weight and space is alway of concern. Picking and choosing become difficult but minimalism always wins in end.