We started out at 8:00 in the morning and drove down there in a school bus that was obviously designed for children as opposed to adults. Fortunately it wasn't anywhere near full and many of us could have a seat to ourselves so our knees weren't bruised by the end of the trip. The organizers learned from that and said they would definitely get a bigger bus for the next trip. We were given organic yogurt made by friends of Jenny, one of the organizers, muffins made fresh by Charlene, the other one, and generally treated like royalty.
Quito is definitely a big city with people pretty well packed in between the mountains. Many of the scenery photos may be a bit blurry. I took them through the window of a moving bus.
We started our shopping expedition at a local market with produce, meat, flowers, and local products. It was a great place and I could have spent hours and more money than I want to admit. As it was I left with some amazing pork chops, a pound of shrimp, some black cherries, and some prepared pulled pork to have for dinner.
This picture, to me, typifies Ecuador. In the background are the jam-packed residential areas of Quito, at the left of the photo is a Kia dealership, next to which are the ubiquitous taxis that are everywhere in every city. On the right is a traditional tienda with goodness only knows what merchandise in it and behind that a slightly more modern store with a factory next to it and offices and/or apartments above. In the very center is an electric pole with extensions on it to help with the extra lines that keep going up faster than the electric company can handle them. The old and the new.
I checked out a few things I'd been looking for but didn't find anything inspirational until I found a shop that sold yarn. I was very good and only bought two balls that were on sale. I'm so good. I ended my visit to the mall at Mega Maxi, a large grocery/department store. They had some interesting things there that I don't see in stores here and I got a few fun things that I don't plan to get often but were fun to have.
On my way back to the bus I saw something that might go over well in the States--there was a car wash-to-go pulled up to a car in the parking lot and while the owner shopped, the fellow with the portable soap and water was busy washing the car. Interesting.
When I got there I discovered a new addition to our group. We had apparently attracted a stray dog who was more than happy to go back with us. We had quite a time convincing him to leave the bus so we could be on our way. If there weren't so many stray dogs here that need to be adopted, someone probably would have taken him home. He was just so adorable and so very loving.
On the way home we made a couple of quick stops. We stopped at a flower market and got some fabulous flowers at even more fabulous prices. These people raise flowers right there for export and have the little shop for tourists. What fun. I didn't even know calla lillies came in purple and blue.
All those flowers have to come from somewhere and when you drive through the countryside you often see flower farms like this one. Many are much larger with acres of fabric covered greenhouses filled with row upon row of flowers in various stages of growth.
A little way down the road we stopped for bizcochos. They're a little bit like shortbread cookies. They're quite wonderful. A bag of them, still warm from the oven, are $1. I'm guessing it was pretty close to a pound of cookies. Here it's traditional to dip them in something. They had samples of a gorgeous red honey, mora (local blackberry) jam, and caramel dip. I got the caramel dip. Oh my, what luxury.
Partway back to Cotacachi we started to see a tiny bit of a rainbow, then it turned into a nice, big one and pretty soon there was a second one next to the the bright one. I wish I could have taken a better photo of it but this will have to do.
By the time we got back to town it was a little after 6:00, drizzling a little, and we were all tired and happy with all our purchases.
I had my pulled pork for dinner, put my groceries away, had a bizcocho for dessert, and headed for bed all happy and full.
Here's what I discovered--I'm even happier to be here in Cotacachi than I was before I went on my little trip to Quito. I had fun and I'll do it again but I hadn't realized how unaccustomed I had become to the hustle and bustle of the city. The shopping mall was still less stressful than ones in the States and there were almost no crying babies but it was loud and things were definitely rushed. I was also reminded that I really hate the traffic there. We drove along next to the streetcar line for quite a ways and the biggest thing I noticed was how crowded it was, even in the middle of the day. It's how I will get around if I go down there on my own. It was also as friendly, polite, and clean as I've become accustomed to (in the market and mall, not in the streets).
I'm looking forward to the next time I get to go on one of these little shopping trips.