This morning we were treated to an awesome breakfast and then loaded onto the bus for a short trip down a rough cobblestone road. We stopped at a small village where there was a trail up to a beautiful waterfall. Just before the trail we visited a stone solar calendar that was hundreds of years old. The acoustics inside were perfect! You could stand on the stone in the centre, and when you spoke, you could hear yourself in full stereo. Strange feeling.
We then hiked up a short trail to the site of a beautiful waterfall. The stream source came from the lake we stayed near the night before. It was cool and refreshing to feel the mist from the falls.
A short ride later brought us to the home and workshop of a local indigenous musician. Here we were given a demonstration of how the locals made the pan pipes used in their music. We were then treated to one of their songs.
After the show, we headed into the town of Otavalo, site of the country’s largest indigenous craft market. There were literally hundreds of booths manned by the indigenous people of the area. Items offered ranged from leather work, alpaca wool clothing, rugs, to musical instruments. We had an hour or so to wander around and peruse all the shops before loading back onto the bus for our next destination.
After a short drive we arrived in Cotacachi. A beautiful, clean, quiet village known for its leather clothing industry. If it is made of leather, you will find it here.
We were served a beautiful lunch at La Marqueza. The food was authentic Ecuadorian, very tasty. We had live pan pipe music while dining. Well worth stopping in for lunch!
We had an hour or so to meander through the town looking at all the leather shops. Wilson took us to a shop called Homero Ortega – the originator of the famous Panama Hat. Go figure! Panama hats originated from Ecuador! Some of the leather craftsmanship was beautiful, with dozens of stores to select from.
Giselle and I ran into several American expats while walking around. They told us about the town and how inexpensive it is to live there. We will definitely be re-visiting this town in the near future.
Back on the bus, and a short wait for the usual stragglers, we were now headed to our final destination of the day – the spas at Papallacta. We travelled for several hours, driving through many small towns. The views were awesome. The roads in Ecuador are beautifully paved and maintained. We drove up into the mountains to an elevation of over 13,000 ft, going over the continental divide. We were now heading downhill towards the Amazon Basin.
Just over the summit is the small community of Papallacta. There are several hot spring resorts here and we were checked into the nicest one, according to Wilson. We each had our own cabana, just like the previous evening. Just footsteps away from our front door were several awesome hot pools to relax in.
Giselle and I booked a private spa session that included hot tubs, steam baths and a half hour massage. After all the pampering, we were treated to another lovely dinner. By then we were tired and ready for some sleep. What another awesome day!