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The Most Colorful Place in the World, Otavalo Market Day!

One of the reasons we took a noisier street room ay Hostal Chasqui was to see the animals run down the street on their way to the famous Otavalo market from our private balcony. When the market it open, it is called "the most colorful place in the world."

After getting up at the appointed time, I was more than a little disappointed to see one lonely pig. Today they must have taken a different route. However, the rest of the day didn’t disappoint.

The Otavalo Market has taken place every Saturday for hundreds of years. We would see the famous Otavalo textiles, handicrafts, animals, food, and almost everything else imaginable.

Ol and I agreed it would be my big shopping spree in South America. I was excited to get things to send home for the holidays.

The only thing that we needed to plan our day around was our visit to the animal market as it only goes on from 7-10 a.m. everything else is until 7:30 p.m.

Otavalo is a rather quiet town. However on market day the town come’s alive and the population swells. Everyone is in their finest dress and the town explodes with color.

Ecuadorians save their use of color for their beautiful textiles, jewelry and art.

The crowds and vendors are similar to the Canton Flea Market but on a grander scale, with a little Mardi Gras thrown in. It was fascinating, colorful, chaotic, fun and exhausting!

Farmers and tradespeople from the region, alongside international tourists flock to the streets to conduct their weekly shopping. Everything was organized around the city by different markets.

The animal market was divided by animals along the outskirts of town. There was an area for horses and donkeys, pigs, cows, chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, rabbits, and guinea pigs.

We knew we were heading in the right direction when we saw people with chickens under their arms.

The fresh food market was held in a permanent large arena. It was huge. The vegetable market had several out posts throughout the city.

However, freshly butchered, lamb, chicken, beef and fish all had their own aisles with numerous stalls.

There were also aisles with grains, beans and spices. It was overwhelming!

Then there were the artisanal crafts and the market of textiles which covered every city street. Small tents lined every available piece of real estate with people selling something.

We met people from Spain, Germany, Canada, France and even traveler’s honeymooning here frommy own private Idaho. It seems while we were trying to purchase handmade goods, the locals were visiting street vendors that were selling clothing and household goods from China, USA and Mexico.

It seemed every electronic store had a crowd out in front of it watching the televisions or watching music videos. People were mesmerized. It was like stepping back in time.

We also saw a few wedding parties lined up in front of the main church, all in their finest native dress. It seemed one wedding party would enter the church and another would be outside taking photos waiting for their turn.

Traditional musicians celebrated, serenaded and danced with the families before and after the wedding.

Food vendors were in the midst of all this chaos selling everything imaginable. Ol bought a cup of chilled fresh sweet cream, but he passed on the lady with a goat tied to the stop sign, selling fresh milk straight from the source.

The children were enjoying all of the treats for sale and you can tell it is something they look forward to all week.

I was pretty proud of myself, I finished all my shopping. Now we just have to figure out how to ship everything home.

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