3 1/2 hours from Quito and we were in Otavalo, set in beautiful highlands and famed for its Saturday artesians market, when the place becomes packed. We were surprised to find it almost dead on a Thursday and there’s not that much to see and do, but there is a good sized permanent market which kept us entertained. We found somewhere quite cheap to stay pretty quickly and spent the rest of the day wandering round, and shopping. We haven’t really bought any souvenirs from Ecuador and with little else to do we explored the market quite thoroughly, buying a clean t shirt each, a pair of those bright cotton hippy trousers and Emma bought a necklace.
The next morning we were up at 7 again (can’t remember the last time we didn’t set the alarm clock – some holiday!) to haul it to the border. We got straight onto a bus to Ibarra, a much bigger town half an hour north. It was literally pulling out of the station gate as we waited to cross but the bus boy hanging out the door touting made it easy to flag. In Ibarra we walked down the platform and got straight onto another 3 hour bus to Tulcan the border town. We loved the easy and frequency of transport in Ecuador, just turning up to the station and getting on the next bus going our way and flagging buses on route.
In Tulcan we got a cab to the border. The Ecuadorian side was not what we expected, it was like a small town with booze shops and all kinds and we had to queue for 2 1/2 hours to get a printed exit stamp in our passports that took all of 30 seconds. We just hoped that the Colombian would now let us in because we really didn’t fancy joining the queue again to be let back in…
- Lots of men in Otavalo have long hair in ponytails
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