Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 42 - Ibarra to Quito, Ecuador

RobT:  Couldn' t sleep, so I was up at 6am servicing the chain on the bike and getting ready for the day.  RobC was up shortly after.  First stop was San Antonio de Ibarra where the famous wood carvers have their workshops.  Had trouble finding the place, as there were no markings, but we managed. 

The first person we met was a fellow from Atavalo. These are the Quichua people that can be found all over the world, playing their Andean music and selling there wares. The men wear all white clothing and have their hair in a pony tail. The women wear long skirts and embroidered blouses. The Otavaleños are very smart business people. This man's first question to RobC was for a letter of invitation to Michigan to sell his wares. They need an official letter to get a visa to the US. (RobC edit: I wiggled my way out of producing the letter.)

The Otavaleña family with RobC.

One of the many wood carvers at work in their shops.This shop had all religious wood carvings.

This hand carved wood piece he would sell for 2000 USD and the gold color is real gold laminate, which cost 500 USD for this piece. This piece had actually been commissioned by the priest at the local church, but it was still at the shop because the parishioners could not come to an agreement on where to hang it.

 One of the many hand carved pieces at the town-sponsored exhibition.

This was by far my favorite piece, entitled "poverty."  Carved out on one piece of wood.

After riding down one way streets the wrong way, lane splitting, going down stairs and riding through markets, RobC figured it would be okay to park on the pedestrian sidewalk in front of the wood shops, right Rob? Having said all that, its not as crazy as it seems.  Traffic here is probably less dangerous than back home for the simple reason that these people know how to drive.  There's a keen awareness and respect on the road, and when we come up from behind, they move to the right and let us pass them in the same lane.

RobC getting a one-on-one lesson on what it takes to produce a wood sculpture of an ornate vase.

Breakfast was a dollar fifty for coffee, 2 boiled eggs, fresh pineapple juice and country cheese on a croissant.  What are you thinking about Rob??

Selling cooked corn by the scoop from door to  door.

Next stop, the famous Otavalo market.

Colorful weavings and embroidery are some of the things they sell.

Spices of all flavors and colors.


While I was out cruising the market place, RobC, while dutifully standing guard over the bikes and our gringo possessions met these two adventurous Swedes.  They have been traveling for a year by hitchhiking and camping (farmers fields or beside the highway) and living off of 5 USD per day between them. No, not a typo, that's 5 USD per day!  They started in Alaska and are heading for Argentina.  To cross the Darien Gap (which we flew across), they bought a dugout canoe for 50 USD from a local fisherman in Panama and paddled through the San Blas Islands to Colombia and sold it to a local fisherman there for 40 USD.  They just recently bought a couple of 125 cc bikes for 1000 USD each and plan on doing some motorcycling for a change ... still on 5USD per day. David and Mathilda are true Vikings and we admire their lifestyle and quickly admit that we would not be able or willing to live on 5 USD a day.

After talking with these two, RobC put it perfectly, "They make us look like we are on a gentlemen's ride around the world."

Final stop for the day: Quito, Ecuador.  We had a choice of two roads for the final 50 km to Quito, and we arbitrarily chose the one to the right. No sooner were we a bit down the road it started to pour.  We both looked to the other side of the valley where we presumed the other road was ... it was sunny over there. We arrived in Quito after an hour and again we went through the ritual of finding a place to stay. We found a place, settled down and realized that we blew past the equator, which is just north of Quito.  Guess where we are going first thing tomorrow .... north to the equator.  :-)

Oh, we had traditional Ecuadorian food, I had guinea pig and RobC had some sort of chewy pork meat, just one grade above shoe leather.  The guinea pig was tough and gamy.  The skin was surprisingly thick for such a small rodent and he seems to need a lot bones to move his body.

No comments:

Post a Comment