Welcome to Ecuador! Seeing, Feeling, and Adjusting.

We have been in Otavalo, Ecuador for a full day now and we are excited to share with you what we have been up to. Our travel day on Thursday was certainly a long one. Arriving at the airport by 4:00 a.m. and not arriving in Quito, Ecuador until 11:30 p.m. that evening! We had all the time we needed to explore the Miami airport over the course of nine hours and by the time we landed we were thrilled to step foot onto a new country, a new continent even. It’s a nearly a two-hour drive to Otavalo from Quito, a smaller little town that we could barely see in the wee hours of the night.

In the morning we discovered just how beautiful the town of Otavalo really is as we woke up and made our way to breakfast at the hotel. It’s important that you know when we say “hotel” we don’t mean the large corporate chains of Holiday Inn or the Sheraton, we mean a small locally owned, friendly, truly hospitable hotel that FEDICE has had a relationship with over the last 15 years. It’s beautiful and wonderful to stay in and keeps us connected to the nature and culture of Otavalo at every turn of the hallways. We are surrounded by mountain ranges that give a breathtaking view every time you look up from the street. The community is lively and vibrant, with cars and buses always running to where they need to be, and people enjoying parks and sidewalks taking in the day ahead.

Saturday afternoon we visited the famous Otavalo Market at Plaza de Panchos. It is one of the largest open-air markets in Ecuador and quite frankly, a place you can get easily lost between the hundreds of booths of incredible crafts and foods. We only spent about two hours total at the market, but we could have stayed all day and then be out of all the cash we brought with us. We all agreed by that evening that if we could, we would have bought something from every single booth there to help support local families and all their handwork and talent for craft making. There were scarves, blankets, sweaters, handbags, rugs, jewelry, every trinket you can imagine, and an entire street dedicated to fresh fruits and vegetables grown at local homes and gardens. I have never seen anything like it – it was breathtaking and overwhelming all at the same time, and not to mention the opportunity to bargain your way in or out of a purchase with what little Spanish we knew, and what little English they knew.

We’re excited to keep sharing with you our experiences. You’ll read many voices, many stories and many perspectives of Otavalo, Ecuador. We have the most wonderful hosts, the most delicious juices and fresh foods, and the city will steal your heart the minute you arrive. Stay tuned.