After saying goodbye to the precious family who cares for the grounds where we lived last year, and stayed this past week, we got to our bus and were rolling toward Guayaquil on the CLP bus from Olon by 5:30 a.m. Oiii.
Travel in Ecuador is one of the more difficult aspects of life here, at least for us. We enjoy the buses, and culture, and people watching - but to a point. We are leaving for the States out of Quito and to get there from the coast requires either an all day bus (11-13 hours in past experience), or a short bus and a flight. At about $50 for a one way ticket, we decided to splurge on this occasion and fly. The all day bus will tempt the motion-sickness for the strongest, and we really hadn't scheduled that in this trip. After the 3-hour bus ride to Guayaquil from Olon, we grabbed a taxi to the airport and flew in to Quito by early afternoon.
No worries. We managed to get dropped off by a bus stop where we were assured we could catch the Cita Express bus bound for Otavalo/Ibarra. This was suddenly looking better than the original plan. Well, until we realized we really weren't in the best area to be standing out like a buffet waiting for a bus that ran (supposedly) only once an hour by the very busy street. After nearly so much time, the bus finally came....and went. Ignoring our waving hands, and those of locals waiting for the same, we were left in its selfish exhaust. Discouragement.
Stubborn as we are, we continued waiting, breathing fumes and feeling increasingly insecure as we became quite the white novelty in our travel clothes and bags. Finally, we gave in and paid for a taxi. That's the bad news. Good news, we made much better time than we would have on the bus, the taxi driver gave us a good price, and we made it to Otavalo before dark.
We love it here. We knew we did, which is why we've now made the difficult trek to this part of the country three times in our experience of Ecuador. It's even better than we remembered. A few hours in Otavalo and we've had a great day despite all the weariness of travel.
We plan to buy more scarves, shawls, and blankets to bring back, so will have a limited supply if you're looking for the best Christmas presents ever. Buying these directly supports this incredible community of indigenous Ecuadorian people, the Otavalenos, and we will be donating a portion of everything we're able to sell in the States back to the orphanage in Olon. We're looking forward to a great day at the markets tomorrow. First stop, animal market (because it's just so much fun), second stop, the artisan market where we'll admire (and purchase) beautiful alpaca products made by some of the most gorgeous people on earth.