Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hotel El Indio, Otavalo, Ecuador

Hotel El Indio. January 6 to January 11, 2009

Fausto, our driver from Quito, showed us 4 or 5 hotels and we chose this gem a block from the Plaza de Ponchos.  We used the nearby internet cafe, had large windows with lovely views and our own private patio off of our room. A room with 3 beds and private bathroom cost us $40/nt total, no breakfast or internet included. Great room, great price. There is another hotel in town, Hotel El Indio Inn, that is rated higher than this one, with internet, but none of their rooms had windows facing the outside, only an interior courtyard. This place was a much better value.

The hotel appeared to be owned and operated by a family, and the side entrance was turned into a lingerie shop. This is the wife selling some of their popular underwear.

Janet buying some of the goods from the daughter. I bought some, too, friendly service and good prices:-)

The second floor was where the owner's family lived. We had a room on the 3rd floor, a healthful walk up the stairs. We didn't see any elevators in Otavalo.

The hallway outside of our room.

View from our window.

Janet unpacking. The clear surface on the right was soon covered with my luggage and stuff and not seen again until we checked out 5 days later. Our patio was through the red curtains.

The Lonely Planet guide book accurately described the decor as "inadvertent 1970's mod ambience".  The mural.. well.. it was a one of a kind work of art.

Lunch on our patio.

More views.

The bathroom and bedroom were very clean, just a bit quirky. Never did figure out how to get hot water out of the sink, only the shower reliably delivered hot water.

Working on a nearby roof.

Nighttime in our room. We had cable TV with English speaking channels from the States.

The lobby, heartbeat of the owner's family.

Interesting decor in the lobby.

This lobby was an important extension of family life, meals were taken here, babies fed or nursed, dogs and friends hanging out and watching TV, all the usual activities of a private living room. We enjoyed walking through this public place on the way to our rooms with a friendly buenos tardes from everyone. I shot this photo from my hip, I didn't want them to see me photographing them eating...

The family dog, very sweet.

Living was casual, but there was always someone around to answer our questions, hold our purchases if we didn't want to take them upstairs, and offer a friendly smile. It was so casual I only gave them my first name at checkin, no passport or last name was ever requested and it was fine to stay on a day to day basis and pay at the end.

There were plenty of empty seats, these 2 men just liked to be close. They may have been brothers or cousins. Another hip shot, I accidentally cut off their heads.

The roosters were very vocal right outside our window every morning.  Janet could only take it for so long without a good long night's sleep, and this is the rooster that drove her...

To get her own room facing a different, quieter street. This room was $10 per night, complete with private bathroom 

The owner of our hotel, walking in the market.  This is typical dress for men of the region. Ian dubbed him the great white hunter :-)

The family dog checking out the passers by.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Parade in Otavalo, Ecuador

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

The parade started right after we'd checked into our hotel, around 4 pm, what a great welcome to my favorite town. Lively people making music and dancing, very informal and I have no idea what they were celebrating. 

After the parade Janet and I checked out the famous Otavalo Market, what a treat of color and texture. I bought one of these hammocks and had a good time bargaining. General rule of thumb is offer half of what is initially quoted. And be prepared to walk away.

This is now in my living room, a lovely work of art.

I think they enjoyed the bargaining as much as I did. Janet bought one of these gourds as well.

An unusual spelling...

At the end of an eventful day of travel from Quito, settling into our new lodging, parade and market we found our favorite pizza place, cozy and very good food. We went back 3 more times in the week we were in Otavalo. Pizzeria Siciliana Ristorante, at the corner of Jose de Sucre y Juan de Dios Morales. Telf: 062925999. Live music Friday and Saturdays.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Driving North to Otavalo

Giant Hummingbird, photo by Ian. Note the size of this largest of all hummingbirds compared to the barbed wire.

About this Post:
Tuesday, January 6th, 2008 Janet, Ian and I drove with Fausto to Otavalo on the Panamerican Highway. We stopped at many places on the way, a lovely drive through the Avenue of the Volcanoes.

 Today, January 18th:
Arriving home last Thursday night to Boston after an easy day of travel, we found snow on the ground and a taxi with a partition between us and the driver. $45 for a 15 minute drive, OMG culture shock! In Ecuador it would have cost $5, and we would have talked with the driver...

Joe came home on Friday for a week as there are no hotel rooms in DC due to the festivities of the Inauguration, great timing for us. Luke, Ian's friend from Maine arrived on Friday for a few days of birding with Ian, and they were so lucky to find the rare Ivory Gull at Cape Ann, specifically Eastern Point in Gloucester.
 Ian's Ivory Gull images:

I'm happy to be home and be with Joe again, looking forward to seeing friends this week. A great quote from my friend Susan  "I love the experience of returning home from far away places:  the familiar is brand new for a few bright moments."

Ian and I did indeed have a most excellent Ecuadorian adventure, it was fantastic and I hope to go back again many times!

I'll post the rest of our trip in the next 2 weeks, Ecuador has so many fascinating images to offer, I just need to edit the 8000 or so pictures into manageable groupings.

Janet and Fausto at the place we found the Giant Hummingbird, just outside of Quito.

The runway location of the new Quito airport, 45 minutes north of the old one, on the Panamerican Highway. Due to open in 2010.

Janet happily birding.

Landscape just before the crater.

Puluahua Crater, an very old volcano that is now a lovely pastoral home to a small village.

Locals enjoying the view from above the crater.

Close-up inside the crater.

A restaurant overlooking the crater, for special occasions.

The donkey turned his back on us at the last minute. The donkeys can be hired to take you down to the bottom of the crater. Photo by Janet. Ian, me and Fausto.

Street vendor, in the highway, selling Guabas.

We bought all this for a dollar!

Inside the Guaba, you eat the white fuzzy stuff, kinda sweet, and spit out the black seed.

More yummy fruit, sucking mangos. Para chupar. 


Chirimoya also sold on the way to Otavalo, a great drive sampling all kinds of food.

A different Equator stop than Ian and I did a month ago, much less touristy, nice views and we were the only ones there.

Janet, Ian, and Fausto checking the GPS to find the exact Equator.

This area is known for it's flower growing, exported all over the world.

Cayambe is known for it's Bizcochos, melt in your mouth little morsels of dough resembling pie crust. A big hit with all of us, too.

Ian checking out the Bizcochos.

Scenery as we approached Otavalo.