Juan Carlos had drawn a simplified map and as we drove he talked about the different regions, the history and the natural resources. On the way we stopped at Mira Lago, a great look out for a volcano and a lake near it. We also took pictures with a little boy in traditional dress sitting with an alpaca. On the way to Otovalo we stopped at on old hacienda built in the 1600's and now used as a hotel and restaurant. A very cool old colonial building with gardens, a small chapel and peacocks in the courtyard. Simon Bolivar stayed there at one time and we were able to see the room he stayed in. The most striking feature was a gorgeous porcelain sink. We were met by a small group of musicians, had a nice lunch with time to look around the house and grounds after. The market in the city of Otovalo is run by the indigenous people with things that are supposedly made locally. But so many people have the exact same stuff, it makes you wonder and I did see some gloves labeled, made in China. But there is lots of beautiful stuff made from alpaca, there was jewelry and many other things. I bought a poncho, I made the lady swear that she had done the crochet around the edges. I bought a bracelet from a man making them from old silver forks. He curls the tines around to the sides, bends the fork into a circle and adds a semi precious stone. I also bought a pair of earrings from a beautiful blue-eyed young man who was bending and weaving copper wire with just 2 pliers. The pair I bought also have a small piece of shell in each one.
From Otovalo we traveled to Cotacachi, a city that is known for their leather work. Some of the people went in search of jackets, purses and shoes. I went down a side street, found some cool glass art and a big church. The churches here do not have the candles sitting around for you to buy. There are small tables by the different shrines so you can bring a candle and light it instead. We were to meet Juan Carlos and the bus in one of the city squares, on my way back I stumbled onto the street where there were shops of people making purses. I talked my way into a couple to look at the machines. Lots of jukis, consews and sun stars. I lost track of time and had to hustle back to the bus, why I bothered I don't know because there are one or two in the group who are always back to the bus. No excuses or apologies, just 37 people waiting on them.
The whole group tour has its pros and cons. Margaret has done a wonderful job planning, I don't have to worry about hotels or flights. Our tour director is fantastic, he takes care of all the details and we see and learn things we would not on our own. The draw backs are the things that try my patience. Juan Carlos tells us what the plan is, what time we need to be where, what we are going to see or do. Immediately after, people ask him what time, where and how, like they were on the moon when he explained things. Then there are the people who are totally unaware of others, they'll walk right in front of you while you are trying to take a picture, push to the front when everybody is waiting, walk on everybody else’s feet getting in the panga. And of course there is the time factor. We have gotten up early everyday to start and when we get somewhere we have only a specific amount of time. Overall, it's a good group and the better I know Margaret, the better I like her.
After the leather town we drove some miles to the home of some indigenous musicians who are, coincidentally, friends of Juan Carlos. It was pretty cool though, one of the women did a demonstration of how they make variations of what I'd call pan pipes from bamboo. She played a couple other instruments, including a rain stick. Then she was joined by a man with guitar and another woman with a drum. Juan Carlos joined them on guitar and they sang a few folk songs. Then we had the opportunity to buy a CD or some of the instruments. They were hanging on the wall along side an armadillo, which unfortunately for me, was not for sale. As we got on the bus the littlest old lady in traditional dress and bare feet appeared looking beatific and pathetic at the same time. I got off and gave her a few dollars. Sometimes I still miss my sweet grannie, Marie.
We got back after 8 PM and had to be up at 3:30 for our flight to the Galapagos. I ordered a grilled ham and cheese from Room service and sorted and packed. The hotel in Quito agreed to store bags for us so we could leave behind all the warm clothes we will need for Peru and travel lighter to the ship. The weather has been overcast but warm, I've been comfortable in shorts and tees. On Friday it was hazy in the morning but most of it burned off and it has been a lovely day. When I mentioned to Margaret that everyone seems so nice, she said that if people are a pain in the ass, somehow the emails about the next years trip never seem to reach them.