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Otavalo Ecuador

Otavalo craftsOtavalo is an Indian town located in a beautiful mountain region, north of Quito on the Pan-American Highway. Traveling from Quito to Otavalo will take around 2 hours. The city of Otavalo is a mix of history, customs, culture and folklore. Here you find beautiful scenery, wide ethnic diversity, ancestral customs, and the ingenious skill of the art and handicrafts of the "Otavaleños".

This small town is justly famous for its friendly people and their Saturday market. The market dates back to pre-Inca times, when jungle products were brought up from the eastern lowlands and traded for highland goods. Today's market serves two different groups: locals who buy and barter animals, food and other essentials; and tourists looking for crafts that can be bought here are numerous- wool woven sweaters, ponchos, Panama hats (an Ecuadorian creation, despite it's name), hammocks, woven tapestries that depict scenes from the Ecuadorian countryside, purses, jewelry, clothing, to name a few.

Otavalo marketA truer measure of their success is their continuing sense of tribal identity and tradition. One of the most evident features of the Otavaleños' cultural integrity is their dress. Traditional attire is worn on normal workdays in homes, villages and fields what you see them wearing is not just for tourists at the Saturday market. Otavaleño men are immediately distinctive with their long ponytails, calf-length white pants, rope sandals, reversible gray or blue ponchos and dark felt hats. The women, too. are very striking in their beautifully embroidered blouses, long black skirts and shawls and interesting folded head cloths. The women also wear bright jewels, the most obvious being the many strings of golden blown-glass beads around their necks and the long strands of red beads around their wrists and arms.

Most of the inhabitants of Otavalo are whites or Mestizos (persons of mixed Spanish and indigenous descent). Of the 40,000 Indians in the Otavalo Ecuador, Casacade of Peguchearea, most live in the many nearby villages and come into Otavalo for market day. However, quite a few Indians own stores in Otavalo, where you can buy most items if you are unable to come for the market.

In addition to a nearby waterfall, "Las Cascadas de Peguche", there are a number of pleasant lakes just outside Otavalo by which you can pass a lazy Sunday afternoon. The larger Imbabura region, sprinkled with mountain lakes. One of the most impressive lakes is Cuicocha located at 3200m at the foot of Cotacachi, a 4939 m high volcano. continues...

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