Otavalo and Pinsaqui

Added 19 Nov 2011

After breakfast we´re on the road just before 8am and heading north along the Panamerican Highway. The views along the way are spectacular with magnificent gorges and snow peaked volcanoes in the background. Cotopaxi, Antisana and Cayambe volcanoes are clear right to the top!

In Cayambe we stop for a tea or coffee and try some typical white cheese with "bizcoches" - buttery cheese biscuits. Our guides, Juan Carlos and Santiago, also consume a tub full of local clotted cream and bread!

15 minutes further on we stop for a wonderful view of San Pablo Lake. From here we give a lift to three local girls who are heading to the Otavalo market which is also our destination. The girls are in the typical dress of the Otavalo region, with black skirts and colourful embroidered blouses. On route the girls sing some local songs and in return we purchase some of their textiles. We are a captive market on the coach, however everyone agrees it is a fair deal!

On arrival in the centre of Otavalo we head for the central square and explore the various stalls selling textiles, woollen goods, jewellery, wood, pottery and more. It is a colourful selection and many guests head back to our coach with goodies.

From Otavalo we drive a short distance to Hacienda Pinsaqui. The hacienda´s history stretches back over three centuries and during the 1800s, it hosted many important guests. Among these was Simón Bolívar. General Bolívar used to stay in the hacienda when campaigning, both militarily and politically, back and forth between Ecuador and Colombia.

One approaches the main house through imposing white stone gates, the front garden rolling gracefully down to a fountain at the hacienda's main entrance, which then divides into two wings. The hacienda was undeniably built to impress. The furniture, including an exquisite chandelier and a behemoth writing desk, comes mainly from France and Spain. You'll also find yet more impressive chandeliers, acres of marble floors, framed newspaper clippings from the early 1800s and the wonderful aromas of fresh flowers and plants.

On arrival and at lunch, local Indian musicians from Otavalo entertain us with their traditional music.