Bargaining in Otavalo
Trip Start Jan 07, 2010
18Trip End Jan 28, 2010
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The market, which spilled into the adjacent streets and went on for kilometres, had an upbeat ambience with vendors anxious to show you their wares if you showed even a slight interest. They offered high quality produce featuring textiles (baby alpaca was the ultimate), farmed produce, and hardware at good prices. We bought scarves, sweaters, and a blanket at various stalls. Rosamund was a tough bargainer, and kept track of the prices and percentages that she could obtain. I was amazed to see how a vendor was able to find the colour we asked for so quickly from some other stall. Also, if change was needed, it often came from another vendor
In general, the women were well dressed in their colourful shawls and dresses. We saw one woman use her shall to carry a bleating lamb on her back. But they were more often used for carrying children. The tops were beautifully embroidered with colourful designs but no attempt was made to coordinate colours of tops with the shawls or dresses.
Food stalls were partially integrated into the mêlée. Whole fried fish, corn, pork, and potatoes were offered in various combinations that might not pass our health and safety standards. But obesity was not a problem there and they were relatively prosperous, healthy and happy so we were not in a good position to criticize. Our lunch consisted of tamarind juice, and vegetable soup. We bought a 12 ounce mickey of rum for $3.75.
We went for a late off-the-beaten-track afternoon walk up the hill behind the hotel and across a large irrigation channel to see the volcanoes and the farmland that supported the society. It was a good time to discuss our final leg of the journey to Ecuador's coast and how to arrange our packing.