In the middle of the world

8:33 PM

Some random shots around Quito, Otavalo and San Antonio de Pichincha (aka the middle of the world)

Our trip to Otavalo was a crazy experience to say the least. We were ready to leave early morning, however my friend's car broke down right before getting on the highway. It was a Sunday and everything was closed!!! Carmen's uncle, Galo, came to the rescue and fixed the busted stickshift box. It wasn't fully fixed so he just helped us take it to a mechanic friend of his.

We decided to waste no time and took a taxi to the bus station. We took two buses in the city to the main station and we were totally paranoid. We had heard horror stories about tourists getting mugged while on the bus, so we tried our best to blend in. That meant no chewing gum, no cells, no cameras and especially NO speaking English. I sure was glad when we arrived to the main station. There, we took a greyhound style bus and were on our way Otavalo. It was a two hour curvy ride and it did not help that the driver was going about 50 miles per hour on each curve!! The scenery was very breathtaking and even though I was so tired, I refused to sleep so I wouldn't miss a thing. We zigzagged and went up and down through all these crazy canyons and lush green hills.

Otavalo is well known for it's colorful outdoor markets where one can find authentic Ecuadorian goodies like artesanias, alpaca sweaters, textiles, jewelry and of course souvenirs. We spent hours there bargaining with the sellers and buying some cool stuff. It was awesome to observe the locals, most of which were indigenous peoples of that area. All the women were bustling about with their traditional clothing which consisted of a long raven black skirt, a white embroidered shirt with flared sleeves, black espadrilles topped off with a black fedora-like hat. My favorite was the string of gold beads wrapped around their necks. Over their shoulder, almost ALL of them carried a cute little guagua (baby.) Compared to the women, the men's clothing was a little more toned down; white trousers, a long navy blue poncho, black espadrilles and large round hat.

After shopping we ate some choclos (corn) with a few slices of cheese on the side. Super delish!
We only spent a short day in Otavalo but I'll never forget this town. It's so alive with tradition and culture!

The rest of the pictures were taken in the middle of the world!! Our very good friend, Veronica lives just minutes away from this landmark. It was believed to be the middle of the world, but when they remeasured the area with GPS, they found that the actual equator line was a few feet farther away. Regardless, I'm so glad I was able to see this place after learning about it in school. Seriously a once in a lifetime experience. :-)

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