Saturday, 13 October 2012

Day trips from Quito

Quito was a great hub to visit some small towns on day trips such as South Americas largest market, Otavalo. Or even cross of one of my longed bucket list entries, to straddle the equator and what better place than Ecuador ('equator' in Spanish)?!

Harry at the ´centre of the world´
If you are like me and have been in the Northern Hemisphere your whole life, crossing the equator to the Southern Hemisphere overland was pretty exciting. I wanted that classic "look at me standing on both hemispheres, aren't I cool" photo. Well, I didn't exactly look cool but I got the photos!

Straddling the equator at last!
The tourist destination for the equator was Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world) and was fairly easy to access by public buses. We took the blue metro line ($0.75) north to the last stop, Ofelia (25mins) where we changed buses to the ones clearly marked to Mitad del Mindo. It cost  only $0.15 for an hours bus ride to the equator. Entry was $2 or more if we wanted to go to the museums... we didn't!

The wasn't much to see or do apart from take as many photos from all angles. We found out that the line was actually 200 or 300m off the true equator...still counts though! Bucket list check!

Our second trip was to Otavalo to do some shopping for some local alpaca clothing. It was a bit further away to get to as we had to change at Ofelia to the north bus terminal (Carcelen) to catch another bus to Otavalo (8am bus for 2h, $2).

The landscape of Otavalo
The main day for the market was Saturday and it was grand. We spent 3h wandering around for the perfect alpaca jumpers (needed to have a llama on it) and a bag for me (also needed a llama).

Aparently crazy hats are ín!
Thankfully, this was the most relaxed market we'd been to. The locals, completely dressed in their indigenous clothing, were extremely friendly and did not pressurise us to buy anything. They were more than happy to let us browse, which was definitely not the case in Chichicastango.

In the end we were successful and exhausted but extremely happy when the weather turn cold that night so we could stay warm in our soft alpacas!

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