Friday, November 18, 2005

8 July 1989 -- Otavallo Markets

We get in the van for a trip to the markets in Otavallo. Ellen asks our driver (a student who attends college in Riobamba) if we have enough gas. He says, "Yes, we have enough to get there and back". (about 3 hours each way.) Exactly one block later we ran out of gas!

There is just no way I can describe the ride to Otavallo. It was so beautiful -- I've never seen anything like it n the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico or California.

The market at Otavallo was nice. I've heard it said (by someone in our group) that it is too "touristy". Sure, there were a lot of tourists, but would it have been better had there been no tourists there? No one to buy these peoples' handicrafts? My philosophy -- I don't mind the tourists being there if that means that these people are being able to earn a living. I'd rather have a few tourists there than have these people living in even worse poverty.

There were also many (very tiny) older people begging. I gave them all of my 10 and 20 sucre notes and when I was in a cafe, the proprietress poured a leftover cola into one old woman's bowl and I gave her my leftover cheese puffs. There is such a wide gap between the beautiful, spacious haciendas and the beggars in the streets -- but of course, we have this to some extent in our country.

We went to eat at a German restaurant and then had drinks at the "Top of the World" restaurant which overlooks Quito by night. It is one of those places where, if you are a "have" you can escape the world of the "have-nots" -- but how can you really forget what you've seen?


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