Sunday, March 11, 2012

Otavalo, Ecuador

At the moment, I am in Otavalo, Ecuador, a town about 90 kilometers, or 55 miles, North of Quito. I am hosted at the firestation, along with my three traveling friends, Javier, Pedro and Gary. We will leave tomorrow morning towards Quito, and will likely stay at the "Casa de Ciclistas" in Tumbaco, just 15 kilometers East of Quito. Then we will head into Quito, and we will stay at "ConstruBicis", a bike store and shop, with complimentary lodging for cycle tourists (also a "Casa de Ciclistas). I will stay in Quito for two or three weeks to work as a volunteer at ConstruBicis, to get to know the city, to hang out with friends, and have a goodbye party as our group of four will separate after Quito--Gary and I will cycle East to Coca (Orellana) to board boats on the Amazon into Brasil, and Javier and Pedro will head on bicycle towards points South. Once in Belem do Pará in Brasil, I will continue on bicycle in the Northeast, heading South along the coast. I may settle in the Northeast, or keep heading South. Gary will make his way, first on bicycle and then bus, to Rio, where he will meet up with friends and business associates who are opening a restaurant chain.

Otavalo is a small town with lots of indigenous heritage. "Otavaleños", or people from Otavalo, retain much of their ancestral culture. The women dress with pretty embroidered blouses, and the men wear single-braided pony tails. The typical Andean music made famous by Paul Simon's El Condor Pasa (If I Could) is prevalent here, and is played in the central plaza over the sound system.

North of Otavalo, we visited Lago Cuicocha, a lake created in the crater of a volcano. The peak of the volcano to the north of the crater lake is snow-capped and beautiful. Just outside of Ibarra, we also visited Laguna Yahuarcocha, the lake of blood, named when the Incans dumped hundreds of bodies of a rival tribe into the lake, before the Spanish arrived.

Ecuador has been delightfully pleasant, with beautiful scenery and friendly people. I particularly thank the fire-people of the now four stations we have posted up at so far in Ecuador. They have been extremely pleasant, friendly, and interested is us and our stories.

One particular fire station experience stands out in Ecuador--participating in yet another search and rescue dog class. (The first one was in Pasto, Colombia.) It was simply fun to watch the dogs play the game of find the person hiding and then bark to alert the search and rescue worker. It is a game, that is, to the dogs, but serious work to the rescuers.

Well, thank you for following my blog. I know I haven't written in awhile, and I hope to get back to writing more consistently. Cheers.

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