I slept pretty well the first night, after I did finally get to sleep. I was having a weird shortness of breath problem, which I’m guessing was from the high altitude. I woke up moderately refreshed and ready to see what Ecuador looked like with the sun up. It’s very beautiful. Despite being at 8000 feet, we were surrounded by still higher peaks that were shrouded in the clouds and covered in snow. It was a pretty breathtaking sight.
The plan for today was to shop and do some sightseeing. We took about a two hour bus ride to the city of Otavalo where there is a large outdoor market. The bus ride was even more harrowing during daylight. I tried to sleep a little on the way, but every sharp corner I woke up with a start half-expecting to be careening off a cliff into the chasm below. In Otavalo we could buy all sorts of Ecuadorian hand-woven handicrafts and such. And no, you didn’t make like an infinity of these at scout camp. The market was a bustling place with everything from blankets to jewelry, to fried piranahs, to fake Oakley sunglasses, which I bought and then promptly broke. It was a very cool place. I bought a couple things for myself and gifts for friends and family. There were a lot more white people there than I was expecting. A lot of European tourists and a couple other mission groups.
After a few hours of shopping, it was time to break for lunch. Ramiro had arranged for us to eat at a pretty nice restraurant called La Marquesa. Ok, if you are partial to small furry house pets, you may want to skip this next section. In Ecuador, cuy is a delicasy. We were served cuy. Cuy is guinea pig. Yes, I tried the cuy. I bet you can guess what it tastes like…chicken. It tastes like fried chicken. KFC is a popular eatery in Ecuador, so of course we stared referring to them as Kentuckey Fried Cuy rather than chicken. Our Ecuadorian hosts found this quite funny. Most people in our group tried at least a bite of the cuy and nobody got sick from it. Now we all have a story to gross out the folks at home with at parties. Ok, moving on…….
Besides all the shopping and eating we did Saturday, we had a chance to enjoy the beautiful Andes Mountains of Ecuador. There are incredible vistas and everything is very lush and green. The mountain sides take on the appearence of a quilt as even the steepest slopes are farmed or used for other agricultural purposes. The most impressive mountain we saw was the volcano Cotopaxi. It’s width and snow-covered slopes make it look a lot like Japan’s Mt. Fuji. It is an awesome sight. Getting familar with the land and culture was a great way to start our trip.
Andy Insults His Host