Today we took the 2 hour drive to the small artisan and indigenous village of Otavalo, a popular day trip from travelers from Quito. Karina, a local musician picked us up at the Folklore Hotel in Quito. We stopped along the way to shoot some b-roll of the beautiful, mountainous surroundings.
Our first stop was the famous market, which is usually in full swing on Saturdays. Even though we were a day early, most of the vendors were out and selling stuff pretty aggressively and as usual, I bought things I really didn’t have room for in my bag. But this is THE spot to go to stock up on any gifts or souvenirs you care to buy when in Ecuador. If you wait until you get to the airport you will likely pay 4 or 5 times as much for the very same merchandise.
I purchased some typical Ecuadorian pants and a small painting and anything else that caught my fancy and I thought I could stuff into my backpack.
We then headed over to Nanda Manachi where Jose Luis and his family, which comprise the Andean musical group Los Hermanos Pichamba performed a typical Andean song for us.
Here is a little video preview of their performance for you to enjoy. Check out the cute little boy (we confirmed, he is indeed a little boy) singing his heart out!
Jose Luis then demonstrated how some of the instruments are made and he taught us a little bit about the history and heritage of the major instruments used in Andean music. We were joined by about 30 jet lagged but very friendly Australian tourists.
After the demonstrations and the Australian Tour Group went on their way, Jose Luis’s family prepared Cuy (Guinea Pig) for lunch.. a typical Andean delicacy. Jose Luise brought it to us whole, head, little teeth and all, and looked pretty scary but after they chopped it up and removed the head, it was very edible and I must admit, yep, it tasted like chicken.
I felt a little guilty because just the previous day I had made friends with a little baby guinea pig (I named him Snowball) just the day before at the Museum Intinan at the Mitad Del Mundo (Middle of the World). I sure hope they weren’t close relations.
Some sections of the Cuy still had a little fur left on the skin and since I don’t eat skin anyway (that’s where most of the fat is on almost any animal), I gave it to our producer Renzo, who happily ate the skin, fur and all!
After all this we took a few pick up shots of Otavalo and then headed back to Quito where we caught a late bus for the 3 hour bus ride to Baños. We arrived around 1AM at our hostel La Casa Verde and proceeded to sleep like rocks. Dead tired. A good if tiresome day.