I knew that our stay in Otavalo would be different when at check in, our host Roberto warned “If you see the Shaman he will be drunk, just take photos, don’t drink his potion or eat the “magical” egg.”
I knew that the Hostal Casqui was the right place when Roberto ran out the door and grabbed our bags and gave us a warm greeting. He invited us into our new home. He gave us a wonderful tour and our choice of several rooms.
We had our choice of the rooftop with a lovely courtyard and a view of the southern volcanoes, or a view of the northern volcanoes with a private balcony and a room filled with light. Of course we couldn’t decide and changed our minds twice.
Roberto then sat down with us for thirty minutes with a map of the area and explained all of the things to do in the area and the cost. He warned us not to fall prey to people selling “tours” for $80 to $100 when the most expensive thing to do is a mere $5 taxi ride or a .35 cent bus ride.
From the roof top deck, he pointed out the plazas, banks, places to send our laundry and what to order and where to eat on each day. He also let us know that it is safe at all times to walk anywhere in this beautiful city. He also gave us the weather forecast and suggested how best to spend the next three days.
His only warning and was to avoid the drunk shaman during the ceremony at one of the villages we were to visit. I’m pretty sure that we will take his advice on this.
Otavalo, Ecuador is a town in the Andean Highlands at 8,500 feet elevation. It is surrounded by six volcanoes, including the Imbabura volcano, waterfalls and beautiful crater lakes. The area is know for outdoor activities and we plan to do some hiking and exploring. It is also world famous for the outdoor market held every weekend. For centuries, the locals have brought their goods to market each weekend. That tradition continues today.
So, just after checkin we laced up our hiking boots and headed up to the Parque del Condor (Condor Park). The park is a world class bird rehabilitation center run by a dutch foundation that rehabilitates eagles, condors, hawks, owls, falcons and many more birds from around the world. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.
On our walk back to town we visited El Lechero, a sacred tree overlooking the city. The tree is important to the indigenous population and is known for its healing properties. Our host Roberto swears that if you want a baby all you have to do is ask and hug the tree. We didn’t touch it!
We ended the day by walking through the city plazas looking for the “official best pie” in South America. Ol ordered blackberry and The Pie Shop delivered!
Tonight we rest from the travel and the short hike because tomorrow the plan is for a strenuous hike around the famous volcano lake. We can then walk off the calories from The Pie Shop. Or, at least that’s what we told ourselves!