Thursday, February 28, 2013

Otavalo Market

I had a chance to go to Otavalo with a friend of mine and this time I took my camera.  Enjoy.

At the "food court" at the bus terminal, this is where all the food booths get the water for doing dishes and cooking.

This is the back side of the food booth area, where the tables are for people to eat. The tables are all blue and every table is a different booth.  Next time I'll be good and get a picture of the fronts of the booths that shows the food that is for sale.

Right across from the bus terminal people have laid out their produce to sell.  We thought about going to the Café Donuts right behind them but we wanted to get a little street vendor food closer to the Plaza del Poncho.

Rats!  It was bright enough that I couldn't see the display after I took the photo so I didn't see that there was so much glare on the window but you can still see the meat hanging in the window of the butcher shop.  Yes, the part on the far left that doesn't have the glare is open to the street.

Is this fabric not beautiful.  This is the display along the side wall to help entice you to come in to purchase their wares.  The fabric isn't "cheap" by local standards but at $4/meter, it wasn't bad.  I got two meters of the bright red to hopefully get a blouse made out of it.  We'll see how it goes.

I love this mural!  It's such a shame that there is that sign right in the center of it.  It's still lovely.

These women are vendors at the market.  Until the customers show up they're sitting there working on their needlework.

The artwork is so vibrant.  It is definitely not all my style but there's something here for everyone.  I wish I'd gotten a close up of the feathers.  They're the small pieces laying on the table.  There or paintings on them.

This woman has a large variety of styles of art.  I'm particularly fond of the things in the front left corner of the table.  I have some in my house that I had framed.  They are made from homemade paper that is pressed into a mold.  The motifs are raised and a part of the paper before it is painted. They're quite lovely.

I love the colors of this stack of alpaca blankets.  The ones on the left are fairly thin but still warm. They're about the size for a double bed and you can get one for between $12 and $20 depending on whether or not you bargain at all or well.

These guys were so funny.  The one on the right was dozing when the one on the left came along and tweaked his nose.  I asked if I could take their pictures.  Sure, they said.  The one on the right kept raising two fingers as if in a peace symbol.  I discovered after I'd taken the pictures that he was asking me for $2 to take their picture.  I told him I'd give him $1 but not $2.  I figured that if I was paying for the pictures, they could pose for me so when the fellow on the left offered to pinch his friend's nose again, I pulled the camera out again and clicked away.

I have to admit, they are pretty darned cute.

I loved these adorable kids clothes.

There are a couple of things of interest in this picture.  First of all, my friend and I got some of the lovely fried things on that platter.  They're a little like donut holes but the inside of them is bright yellow-y orange and she puts half a dozen of them in a little bag and then sprinkles sugar over them, all for 50 cents.  While we were sitting on the steps eating them, the fellow to the left casually walked past carrying four chickens--they're alive.  Right here he's standing there talking with someone and just holding the chickens upside down as they pick their heads up periodically to look around.

Not all the sales people have formal booths.  This guy has all his shirts in his suitcase and he found a little patch of sidewalk and is laying things out to sell.

This street has vendors down it for several blocks.  I've never seen the whole market.  I'm guessing I've seen 1/4 of it and I've gone over 8 or 10 blocks.  Of course I always start at the same place because I start from the bus terminal.  One of these days maybe I'll just walk past these streets and explore a new part of it.  I'll take my camera and see if there's new stuff to share with you.

Again, on the way out of town, there was another vegetable display.  Unfortunately I was in a taxi and couldn't stop to see what they have.  This was on a Saturday, though, and market day here in Cotacachi is Sunday so getting fresh produce in Otavalo isn't a big priority for me.

That was my morning in Otavalo.  Oh, the reason I was in a taxi was because I'm not great at taking the bus home from there.  I might have to do it next time just so I can take pictures of people getting on the bus.  It's the most amazing thing.  These lovely, polite, timid people absolutely mob the entrance to the bus and people get totally mashed trying to get on.  If you're not good at pushing and shoving small people, you might not get on the bus.  Of course this is only on market day and only in the afternoon.  The rest of the time it's just like any other time.  For me, I'd rather pay my half of the $5 taxi ride back home than fighting the bus.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Battle of Tarqui

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Tarqui.  In Ecuador, there are celebrations for tons of events of importance to the country, far more than in the US.

The sign says: Day of glory for the Ecuadorian Army that triumphed in Tarqui Patriots

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cooking Class

We have a fabulous resource here in Cotacachi.  Dan Delgado not only serves as the liaison between the expats and the local government-type folks, he's a world class chef and offers cooking classes in our own homes for a little bit of nothing.  His specialty is teaching how to make our favorite foods with what is available here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Young Neighbors

You may recall that there is a four-story building on the same property where I live.  On the ground floor there is a cyber cafe and the upper three floors have one apartment each.  The couple who live on the third floor have three adorable children and the other day they let me take their pictures.

If the parents don't mind, the kids always have fun with it because I let them see themselves on the back of the camera after I take each shot.  That always makes them smile and be up for more pictures.

Oh how I wish I could remember the oldest boy's name.  It's something like Ariel but that's not right.  One of these days I'll actually remember it after he tells me what it is.  I'd guess he's about 7 or 8 and he's the shyest of the three.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Presidential Election and Rent Law

Each month Dan Delgado brings all the big news from the Spanish speaking Ecuadorian community.  It may have to do specifically with things happening in Cotacachi and the immediate surrounding areas or, as in this case, more of a national view.  Whatever he reports on, it's always interesting and informative.  This one, in particular, seemed of interest to all of us who live here and those who are contemplating moving here.

I hope you find it as helpful as I did.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Photo Roundup -- February 22, 2013

Enjoy some miscellaneous photos that didn't warrant their own blog post but I wanted to share with you.

I have many visitors to my roof and I hear just about all of them.  The noisiest (because of their size) are the kitties.  These two are the most frequent visitors and they look like they do pretty well in the eating arena.  There are enough smaller critters around that I suspect they don't want for much food.  They're a little hard to catch on camera but this isn't a terrible shot of them going from the wall that makes up one of the sides of my house as well as the fence around the property to my roof.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Restaurant Review

The other day I went to a local restaurant and thought I'd share with you.  In fact, I've been thinking of doing more reviews of restaurants.  I eat out on a fairly regular basis here so sharing the food and the locations seems like something that would not only be fun to do but would give those of you who are planning to visit or come here to live a better idea of what is available.  Besides, this gives me an excuse to try new places (as if I needed an excuse).

This particular day I had a great meal in a great atmosphere.  I have some partial photos of the food but I was having so much fun talking and eating that I failed to get as many as I would have liked.  The only other thing I didn't get was the name of the restaurant.  It's funny but things here seem to be identified as much by their location as their name.  This is the one that's a little past Solid Rock, on the other side of the street, just before you get to the plastic store on the corner just this side of the market.  I know, it doesn't sound simple but it works. I think part of it is that there are so many little restaurants here that a description is better than a name.

At any rate, the food at the restaurant that currently has no name for the blog post, was nothing short of fabulous.  We all had the menu de dia (menu of the day) and I'm not actually sure they serve anything else.  We weren't offered menus and just asked about the menu de dia and we all decided it sounded good so that's what we had.  The ala carte menus in most restaurants (when they have them) are always more expensive than the menu de dia and are rarely as good let alone better.  The only time I tend to stray from the special of the day is if it's something I just don't like. So far I've never been disappointed.

We started with the traditional large bowl of soup.  This may look kind of small because the spoon is very large but I'm guessing there was between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of soup in there.  Today it was a vegetable beef soup with lentils.  I'm not generally overly fond of lentils but this was fabulous!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Photo Roundup -- February 17, 2013

It's been a while since I've done a photo roundup so I went through my photos for the last month or so and came up with quite a few that I don't think made it into regular posts that I want to share.

I love this picture.  I took it quite a while back when I was in Ibarra.  The indigenous people have different traditional outfits for each tribe or sub-group within a tribe.  Please understand that I really know almost nothing about this. It's on my list of things to do: get more information about the place I live and the people who live there.  Until then, I'll just have to share what I know for sure and what I kind of know and correct things as I go along.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Last weekend was Carnival time in Ecuador and even though it isn't celebrated formally in Cotacachi, that doesn't mean we don't know it's happening.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Carnival in Ecuador:

In Ecuador, the celebrations have a history that begins before the arrival of Catholicism. It is known that the Huarangas Indians (from the Chimbos nation) used to celebrate the second moon of the year with a festival at which they threw flour, flowers and perfumed water. This once pagan tradition has since merged with the Catholic celebration of Carnival.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What I Wish I'd Brought With Me

I was reminded just the other day that I said I would write a blog post about what I wish I had brought with me.

Well, of course each of us is going to be different and I brought quite a bit with me when I came but here are some of the things I miss or wish I'd brought.

The big things:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Housewarming Party, Part III

And so the party time arrived and so did the guests.  It was wonderful and absolutely perfect.

There were new friends as well as "old" ones (it's really hard to have old friends when I haven't even been here a year, yet).  By the way, I'm the one in yellow.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Housewarming Party, Part II

It's Saturday morning and I'm getting ready for the party with those little things that still need to be done, like finishing up cleaning the bedroom.  I still have a lot of stuff that needs places to store it.  Well, as Scarlet would say, "I'll think about that tomorrow."

In the meantime, my friend, Marcia, came over with some of the food she made for the party.  She brought Oscar and Wilde with her.
They went to live with Marcia two days ago.  They're miniature poodle puppies.  Oscar's on the right and Wilde is on the left.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Housewarming Party, Part I, the Preparations

One thing I've learned about myself is that if I wait until I'm really ready to do something, it could take forever.  Thus, when friends said they were going back to the States in mid-February and really wanted me to have my housewarming before they left, I said, "Sure, that's over a month away--no problem."

What was I thinking?  Well, one of the things I was thinking was that I needed to have a date in mind or it wouldn't happen.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hacienda San Isidro

I was fortunate enough to be able to have dinner at Hacienda San Isidro a few nights ago and I simply have to share the experience with you.  It was amazing!

The hacienda is at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano and is higher in elevation than Cotacachi.  The higher we drove, the more we climbed into the clouds.  I love the way the light fog blankets everything just a bit and softens all the edges.

If I had been a clear evening we would be looking at the mountain in this photo.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Expat Attitudes

I generally try to portray those things I experience here in Cotacachi and in my travels, limited as they may be.  Sometimes I talk about the realities of life that some find negative, especially when I am giving people the information I think might be helpful if they're attempting to make the decision as to whether or not they should move here.

Today I'd like to suggest you read a blog post by Lee Dubs that was on the Cuenca High Life blog last year.  It's entitled, "The Ugly American revisited: arrogance plus ignorance is a recipe for trouble as more N. American's move to Ecuador."  This is totally different than anything I've ever written but I think Lee says something that many of us recognize as a growing truth here and it's something I hope you'll read with the understanding that there are very few of us who are like that down here.  If you read this and feel that you can strongly relate to the people Lee is talking about, you might want to do a little more research before you consider making Ecuador your home.

For the rest of us, it's an interesting and, I feel, insightful article that speaks to so much more than the problems facing some expats here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Helpful Hints

This post has absolutely nothing to do about Ecuador but it's something I got in my email this morning and I really wanted to share it with my friends, so here are some of the best little hints I've seen in a long time.  Several of them will find their way into my world.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"What Do You Miss the Most?"

I met with a group of people on a tour of this area just a little while ago and I was reminded that there are things I've forgotten since I got here and other things I don't really think about so I thought I'd share a little of that with you tonight.  If people on the tour were wondering, I'll bet some of you are as well.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ecuador Tour Anyone?

I know I've told you about the times when I've had the opportunity to work with my favorite tour group when they come to Cotacachi but I've never really told you about the tour company itself and I really want to do that.  I'm so blown away but what they do that I can't imagine everyone who wants to come down here to check out Ecuador (or who's already here but wants to see more of it) going to anyone else!

So, here we go, Ecuador Expat Journeys! (If you don't want to wade through the rest of this post to get to the bottom line, when you get to the site, click on Crash Course and Tour to get the skinny on their top offering.)

Meet the team, well, part of it anyway:
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On the left we have Jonathan, Sarah, and Suzie and on the right is Roger.  All of them are amazing at what they do and part of that is because they love it!  You can read all about them on the site but it's so easy to read what is on there and say, "Oh, right, that's their website, they have to say good things about themselves." Yes, it would be silly to say negative things about themselves but having gotten to know them, it's also all true.  They love what they do and they are completely enthusiastic about Ecuador.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Another New Hot Spot in Cotacachi

Cotacachi has yet another business owned by an ex-pat.  The Monkey Bar opened a couple of weeks ago to great enthusiasm (including mine).  I got a little wild and crazy that night but it was all great fun with good friends.  The funny part is that this was on a Saturday night and before noon on Sunday, people I went to play cards with already knew how many drinks I'd had (five of them--yes, I know, that's a rather high number and, so, probably memorable).  Small town living is such a riot.  If you can't deal with people talking about you, this might not be your ideal place to live.

Inline image 3

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Mindo -- Birds of Los Bancos

And here we are, at the end of the Mindo photos.  It was a fabulous trip and one that I hope to make again.  Our tour guide has gone close to a dozen times and never tires of photographing the birds and butterflies (particularly the birds).  I think it could definitely be that way for me.

On Wednesday we made a little trek up to Los Bancos, a small town near Mindo, to have lunch, watch birds, and go to an ATM if anyone needed to do that.  Mindo doesn't have one--Los Bancos does.

The restaurant was also a small hostal.  The rooms are on the left, the restaurant in the back.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mindo -- Butterflies, Part 2

Yesterday's butterflies were all hanging out on the netting, patio, stones, or people.  Today I wanted to share the shots I got of them looking like they're out in nature.  I think these are my favorites--well, they are until I look at the others.  They're really all my favorites.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mindo -- Butterflies, Part 1

We went to a butterfly preserve where they help certain butterflies survive the predators in the wild.  It was fabulous to be able to view them in a relatively natural looking setting before they were released back into the wild.

The first thing we got to see was where they put the pupae they have collected so they can hatch.  These are the pupae of butterflies that hatch at the waters edge.  They really are as sparkly as they look.  It mimics the look of sun glinting off water and helps camouflage them.