Monday, February 13, 2012

Ecuador: it's feeling like home

I woke up twice last night, stewing over how to get to Cotacachi today. It's the small city where high quality leather goods are made, and I'd decided to replace my cheap synthetic laptop carrier with something a little more durable. Cotacachi is also where a lot of ex-pats have settled recently. I have a friend who plans to move there this summer.

We could take a taxi from our front door for $8 to $10 each way, or we could take the bus from the San Pablo plaza to Otovalo and then transfer to the Cotacachi bus for $1 each way. We took the bus. It took nearly an hour to go the 23 miles between here and there, but the buses were a visual feast. On the San Pablo to Otovalo leg we saw couples with babies, women headed to market and men to work. Three quarters of them were indigenous, dressed traditionally; the rest were mestizo (mixed indigenous and European from several centuries ago). Between Otovalo and Cotacachi there were few indigenous, mostly mestizo in Western dress and several English and Italian speakers. And the scenery is unmatched anywhere I have traveled in the world.

We walked the "leather street" and I found my new laptop case. Leather, with the right dimensions and pockets, I paid $68 in the second shop I visited. Then I stopped looking, because I didn't want to know what else I might have chosen, or what different prices I might have paid. The street reminded me of Italy. These weren't little native shops; they had sophisticated window displays and their display areas were artfully done. It was clear to me that more than a few non-Ecuadorians live in this place and are influencing the growth and culture of Cotacachi. We had lunch in a place that could have been in Italy or Mexico, and thought our spaghetti with shrimp was excellent and inexpensive, I found myself thinking almost wistfully about the local flavor of San Pablo and even Otovalo.

Of course we stand out on the buses; I have gray hair and am wearing a large-brimmed hat, while everyone else has black hair and wears traditional headgear or nothing. Still, they are courteous to us. We feel comfortable in their midst.

And now that we're back at Casa Quinde, I'm thinking about wandering over to the garden to pick some vegetables for dinner - or maybe walking to a tienda for an ice cream sandwich.

It's feeling like home here, but we're leaving a week from tomorrow. Already?

You should hear my Spanish! It's terrible. But my vocabulary increases every day. Somehow I'm making myself understood.

11 comments:

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

So exciting to hear you're feeling so comfortable & welcomed in the country! It looks like an amazing place to spend time, green and sunny. And you know what they say, time flies when you're having fun! Travel back safely :-)

Perpetua said...

Isn't it always like that, Linda. you get comfortable and acclimatised and than it's time to leave. Glad it's been such a good trip.

Ms Sparrow said...

How nice that you can adapt to another culture so easily. It speaks well of you!

Teresa Evangeline said...

It sounds so fun and you seem to be settling in. Next year?

MerCyn said...

Are you thinking of making another trip, maybe staying longer, or contemplating another version of the snowbird lifestyle? Sounds like a wonderful place.

Linda Reeder said...

I think it's wonderful; how you are immersing yourself in the culture. I have never traveled that way, staying in one place for an extended time.

Galen Pearl said...

How great. So glad you are having a good time!

Out on the prairie said...

This sounds positivily charming, I love the Spainish culture.

Happy Valentines Day!

Arkansas Patti said...

What an amazing experience you are having. So glad you took the bus. I agree with Mercyn, Maybe a regular thing for you two?

DJan said...

I think taking the bus is always a visual feast, even here in the US. I see people from all walks of life (well maybe not any of the 1%) and find myself happily being part of the culture.

You sure do make me miss Spanish culture. And please please enjoy this last week! I know how much I appreciate your thoughtful and well written posts.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I've always been captivated by the indigenous Ecuadorians and their traditional dress. Your posts are bringing them to life for me, and I thank you. I can imagine you returning for a few months at a time...your Spanish would become even better very rapidly!