A Tour of Quito and Otavalo

Holly Callahan
January 18, 2015

This week we finished our orientations and had some time to explore Quito and the Otavalo market.

Quito_Cumbaya_USFQ_Holly Callahan

Quito_Cumbaya_USFQ court_Holly Callahan

Quito_Cumbaya_USFQ fountain_Holly Callahan

This is the Universidad De San Francisco, where I will begin classes next tomorrow. It is a beautiful and peaceful campus. 

Quito_Quito_from car_Holly Callahan

Our tour of Quito started at Itchimbia Park which has a view of all of Quito. Above is the view from the bus on the way there.

Quito_Quito_view_Holly Callahan

This is South Quito from the park.

Quito_Quito_Basilica_Holly Callahan

The Basílica del Voto Nacional

Quito_Quito_ME!_Holly Callahan

Quito_Quito_IES group_Holly Callahan

Me in front of “Old Town” Quito and the students in my program.

Quito_Quito_Basilica 2rom car_Holly Callahan

A closer look at the Basílica del Voto Nacional

Quito_Quito_Independence Statue_Holly Callahan

Monument in Plaza de Independencia

Quito_Quito_Mary_Holly Callahan

El Panceillo from Plaza San Francisco

Quito_Quito_San Franscisco_Holly Callahan

Plaza San Francisco

Quito_Quito_Independence Square_Holly Callahan

Our view of Plaza de Independencia during lunch.

After lunch it started pouring rain and there were thunderstorms the rest of the day! Our first experience of the drastic weather changes here in Quito.

Yesterday we took a bus to Otavalo market and the surrounding areas. We did this with another IES program and had to pay $30 to go with them. At first many of us wanted to try to go on our own, but I think we would all agree now that going with IES was the right choice.

The day started with coffee and bizcochos. The coffee here is surprisingly terrible. That morning it tasted like instant coffee in simple syrup. The bizcochos tasted like shortbread and were tasty. The best part of breakfast was a group of musicians who were playing in the restaurant. They played traditional music  from Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. Most of the group danced around the restaurant after eating.

Quito_Cayambe_Volcanoes_Holly Callahan

Quito_Cayambe_Volcano_Holly Callahan

Here are a few of the many volcanoes we saw on our way to Otavalo!

We then went to Cascada de Peguche, a waterfall where people used to go to rid themselves of bad spirits by standing in the water and having women wave burning herbs around them. Sadly, we did not get to experience this tradition, but the waterfall and the buildings surrounding it were incredible.

Quito_Otavalo_Peguche_Holly Callahan

Quito_Otavalo_Peguche Child_Holly Callahan

Quito_Otavalo_Peguche Art_Holly Callahan

Quito_Otavalo_Cascade de Peguche_Holly Callahan

Quito_Otavalo_Peguche adn me_Holly Callahan

The waterfall was so powerful. We all got soaked exploring the rocks around it. 

Quito_Otavalo_Peguche Hole_Holly Callahan

We then hiked up to the top of the waterfall where there were caves that led to the river.

Up next was Otavalo market. At first it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. It seemed like just another tourist trap until I broke away from the group and started talking to vendors and exploring the other parts of the market.

Quito_Otavalo_Onions_Holly Callahan

Quito_Otavalo_Paintings_Holly Callahan

People walked through the crowded selling coconuts and other items like the onions pictured above. Most vendors were selling from booths and had art, tapestries, jewelry, sweaters and pretty much everything else a visitor could desire.

My favorite part of the market was the food section. We had limited time there, so most people in the group didn’t explore this area but it was fascinating (even though I would never eat any of it).

Quito_Otavalo_Veggies_Holly Callahan

Quito_Otavalo_Food_Holly Callahan

The vegetables were so colorful, fresh and hard to resist.

Quito_Otavalo_Snails_Holly Callahan

What I initially thought was cooked beans turned out to be fresh water snails at this booth! To be eaten with salt and lime (yum?).

Quito_Otavalo_Spices_Holly Callahan

Many people sold spices, corn, beans and eggs and presented them on the ground. I had to be careful when navigating the crowds not to step on anything.

Quito_Otavalo_Chicken_Holly Callahan

This man sold pieces of raw chicken at his booth. I can’t even imagine what kind of bacteria they had (if only I had an Ecuadorian gut!)

Our day ended with a boat trip in Cotacachi. The fourth most dangerous volcano in Ecuador? The world? I’m not sure where the guide said (it was all in fast spanish), but its dangerous apparently. There is a lake in the crater called Cuicocha because there are a lot of Cuy (guinea pigs) on the islands within it.

Quito_Otavalo_Cotacachi 1_Holly Callahan

Quito_Otavalo_Cotacachi 2_Holly Callahan

The boat ride was fun and included canelazo, a traditional Ecuadorian and Columbian drink. 

Tomorrow we start classes and I am excited to begin the scientific aspect of this journey. The evolution track leaves for the Amazon tomorrow and my group is going to the coast of Ecuador on Thursday!

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Holly Callahan

<p>Hello! My name is Holly and I love nature and the ocean. For four months I will be studying Marine Ecology in the Galapagos Islands. I can&#39;t wait study, live and explore one of the most beautiful and wild places in the world. Adventure awaits!</p>

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