“Let’s go shopping”

This was Martha’s announcement as we headed for the van today.  😀.    It was a different kind of day for this group of hardy travelers.    We had a two hour drive north up into the mountains.   Of course.   😀

The scenery was beautiful.   Lush mountains covered by crops of everything you can imagine.   Corn.  Potatoes.  Tomatoes.   Bananas – green and yellow.   Big and small.    Avacado.   Strawberries.  Roses.   And then we’d hit jungle areas.   Lots to see.   Lots to learn from Freddie as we traveled along.    I do so enjoy the educational components of our adventures.

We stopped for a bathroom break. This little guy was happy for me to take his picture!
D took this picture as we drove along.

We saw lots and lots of bikers.  Many women as well as men.  Out in groups.   Cycling up and down over these mountainous roads.    There is a well defined bike lane along the road but there was often a car riding along beside them.    We thought it was to keep cars away but Freddie says the cars are there to pick up the cyclists if the get too exhausted.   Many of them are professional riders – all in fancy kits!   

We drove through one very lush area with huge farms.   Lots of cattle.  Lots of crops.    At one point, the government folks noticed that in one particular area, there seemed to be lots of fancy, expensive cars driving around.   They investigated and discovered a big production of cocaine.   😳.    They arrested the kingpin and he served 20 years in prison.     Now out.

I asked him at what age the young folks get married over here.   Freddie says it’s much about where they live.   In the big cities they wait until they are in their 20s and 30s and many of them want only one child or none.    The indigenous people have less exposure to education.   Many of the girls get married at 13 or so – often to an older boy.    They have four or five children and then the boy runs off.   This leaves the young mother with no money and no help.    Some of these women turn to selling their bodies to earn cash.   ☹️.   If the police know that the fathers are not supporting their children, they make them pay up or go to jail.   And sometimes, the fathers of these renegade men will go to prison in place of their sons.  That is hard to believe.    They must not know about tough love . . .

D along the path . . .

We stopped for about an hour to walk up to this beautiful lagoon.   In the background were lots of volcanos.    It felt very much like a jungle in this area.   It is supposed to be very scenic in this area but the day was mostly cloudy so we couldn’t see the volcano peaks.  It was much appreciated exercise however.  Lots of time in the van today.

Lunch happened in the leather town.    Freddie found us this delightful restaurant where we had a perfect lunch.    Appetizers came courtesy of the place.  Very interesting.  Popcorn.  Lupin (sort of a white bean).   Roasted corn.  All served with this yummy chili sauce.    We discovered that it was best to mix everything together in the sauce on your dish.     We all ordered soup.  Chicken soup or potato soup.  I had the latter.   It was yummy.    Chunks of potato, avacado slices and some grated cheese spiced with a local herb that turned it yellow.    Lunch over here is served with a juice smoothie.  So good!    Pineapple.  Papaya.  Mango.   Three tomato.    Fun to eat like the locals.

Jojo’s soup of the day .

We spent about half an hour in the leather shops.  Bought some Ecuadorean espresso beans and a two dollar leather coin purse.     And then we hit the Otavalo market.    What a scene that was!    40 blocks of shopping.  All run by the indigenous tribes from the area.    They all dress in their traditional clothing.   Some colorful.  Some black or brown.   Heavy stuff.   The women all wear these elaborate headdresses, often fashioned from shawls.     We think they must get hot in all that clothing.

Lots of market pictures.

Dave and I need absolutely nothing so we just explored with our cameras.    The others did a bit of shopping.     The eating area was something to behold.    Many of the local folks make this their big meal of the day.   Lots of huge kettles of chicken or fish soup.   Lots of meat or bread frying in hot oil.   Many people roasting bananas.    Anything you might want – you could find at this market.   Maybe not the most sanitary.   😳.  One stall has the dishwashing operation just inches from the serving station.     It was colorful and crowded and very noisy.    Mothers nursing their babies as they walked along.  Old men missing teeth enjoying their food.  Small kids manning booths.    Just a scene.    D and Jojo took lots of photos.   We tried to be discreet . . .

Huge vats of soup!
This is tiring business . . .
Just hangin out

Entire meals coming off the stoves . .
The shawls carry lots of stuff
Amazing spices.
Deep in conversation

These folks  all have long hair.  As a matter of fact – the men never ever cut their hair.   They often wear it in a long braid down their back.

One interesting fact we learned from Freddie.  Who is – by the way – incredibly honest with us.   He says they have had one good president in his lifetime.   Back in 1978.   Unfortunately he was killed by the CIA.  😥.    It seems like not everybody loves the United States of America!   Freddie says that this president didn’t want to maintain a close relationship with US and so we did away with him.    Hard to fathom.      I wonder what the real story is.        😳

This fellow introduced us to this yummy hot cinnamon drink with alcohol.
We had dinner here two nights. Irving, our waiter loved us and we loved him! 😀. He is from Venezuela but has spent lots of time in the US!

So today us our last day in Quito.   Tomorrow we fly over to the Galapagos.  We’ve had a wonderful, varied three days here.   But we’re looking forward to boarding our boat and unpacking for the first time.     I’m told that there is no internet on the boat so my next blog might not come for another week.   We’ll see.    😏

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