Saturday, July 28, 2012

Weaver's Museum

On Friday, I almost wanted to just stay home, but Ron said that if we didn't go back to Paguche and climb up to the top of the falls I would definitely regret it.  So I packed my collapsible cane and off we went.  This time we took the bus to Otavalo and then asked where we could get a bus to Paguche.  It was just across the street from the big bus station, and we only had to wait about 10 minutes.  The bus dropped us off right at the gate to the falls.  Since we had been there before we knew where we were going.  The first time we went we were surprised that so few people were there.  Well, not today!  There were at least four school buses and the place was jumping with hundreds of kids.  We found the path going up and I got my cane ready.  It was about a 200 foot climb to the top, and I made it.  Some great pictures from up there.  By the time we started down, all the kids were starting up.  They were so cute, though.  They all said "buenas Dias" or "hello.". One young man stopped us and asked where we were from and said "Welcome to my country." I doubt if American kids would do that.

We walked down the road to the bus stop and waited for a bus to come by.  Soon enough one came toward us.  I asked the driver if he was going to Otavalo and he said "Si, si." when we arrived at the bus terminal Ron whipped out his little Otavalo map and we headed for the main square.  We thought there would be restaurants around the square.  There usually are, but not this time.  We had to walk up and down a few streets before we found a good place.   After a very ice lunch topped off with fresh strawberries and cream, we set off to find the museum of the weavers.

Of all the things we have seen and done in Ecuador, this may have been the most enjoyable.  First, the entrance did not look like a museum, it looked like a restaurant or cafe.  Off to the far right of the path was a small door that said "Museo."I opened the door but it looked like a storeroom or something.  I ducked back out and I guess I must have looked puzzled because the woman outside waved me on and nodded vigorously saying "Si, Si."We ventured on and crossed a courtyard to another old, rickety door.  When we opened that one it was obvious that this large room contained old artifacts having to do with wool, spinning, and weaving. Before we could get our bearings an old indigenous man came in.  He started talking to us, but soon realized that we spoke only "poco Espanol." He was very considerate and patient.  He spoke slowly and watched us carefully to see if we were getting was he was telling us.  He explained how the sheep are sheared, then the wool is washed.  He sat down and took a handful of wool and demonstrated the carding process.  After he had the wool carded and rolled into a long strand, he went over to the spinning wheel and spun it into yarn.  We went all around the room, from station to station with him telling us what was done at each stage.  I shot video of him at several spots.  Finally he showed us a magazine with a photo of his son who is a professor of neuroscience in California.  Another son was shown shaking hands with Fidel when he was in Ecuador, but we didn't get what this sons occupation is.  He was obviously very proud of them.  Before we left, he led us over to a framed certificate, embellished with gold, and displaying a medal on a ribbon.  He made it clear that he was awarded the medal, but we don't know for what.  We made a contribution to the museum, or to SeƱor Maldonado, and left, feeling that we had experienced a truly special treat.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mud Massage

On Thursday we decided to go back to Chachimbiro for a massage and the thermal pools.  It is a trek to get there, though.  First is a 45 minute bus to Ibarra, then a 30 minute bus to Urququi, then a $6.00 taxi ride up to Sacre Aqua. But this time we found where to go to pay for a massage, and only had to wait a few minutes for my therapist to be ready.  She told me to take my suit off down to the waist and lie on the table face down.  I couldn't see what she was doing, but I could tell she was using oil or something.  Then she used hand gestures to indicate I should turn over. Well, I am accustomed to the very modest ways of Massage Envy, not the customs of a country where women just pull up their blouses and nurse their babies anywhere, no matter how many people are around.  This time there was no sheet at all.  It was strange, but when in Rome or in Ecuador, you just go with it.  I just kept my eyes closed, and she finished the massage with my face.  When she told me to get up, I opened my eyes and saw that I was covered in a reddish-yellow mud.  she told me to sit in the sun for 10 minutes and then go rinse off in the shower.  Ron took pictures, and after I was no longer brown we went into the jacuzzi.

We spent several hours soaking in the various pools, had our lunch that we had prepared, then left to wait for the bus back to Ibarra.  Just down the road that leads to the place where the buses park were a couple of little stores and a concrete bench to sit on.  We parked ourselves there with our bags.  Soon two little girls came walking up and talked to an older girl, probably their sister, who seemed to be watching the shop and also watching a baby who was strapped into a tricycle/stroller gizmo.  One of the little girls came over to me and pointed to my camera.  I took her picture and showed it to her.  Her eyes lit up and she started pointing to her sisters, so I framed the shot, then took her hand and put her finger on the button and pushed it down.  Then showed her the picture.  We yelled "you did it!" She was delighted.

We took pictures of all of them and she was practically in my lap by that time.  We told them we had to go to the bus, so said goodbye.  However, when we got to the bus he wasn't ready to go yet so we had to wait some more.  Sure enough, here they came again.  This time they had some little packets of powdered candy.  Looked like Kool-Aid.  The more friendly of the girls grabbed my hand, turned it palm up and poured some in my palm.  God, it was awful tasting stuff, bur I didn't let her see me toss it on the ground.  In a few minutes, she ran back and gave me another portion.  Ron remembered that we had some bandy in our bag, so I got that out and gave it to them.  Now we were friends forever.  When the bus started up, they both shouted "Ciao, ciao," and we blew kisses to them.  Great moment!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lake of Blood

Haven't written anything since we returned to Cotacachi, so will catch up today.  We were so wiped after our exploring that we just chilled, watching "Big Bang Theory."And talking with family on FaceTime.   Tuesday we did take the bus to Ibarra and took a taxi to the "Lake of Blood."There weren't very many people there but we did meet Herb, a guy about our age from Boynton Beach, Florida.  He is here doing pretty much the same thing we are-exploring possibilities in Ecuador.  He spent two weeks in Quito living with a local family and taking a Spanish course.  Then he spent a week in Otavalo during which time he visited Cotacachi.  He plans to go to Cuenca for a bit, too.  He told us a lot about San Miquel de Allende in Mexico, the place Kyle mentioned to us as another possibility. We hung out with him for quite a while waiting for them to take the tour boat out on the lake.  Turned out he had lived in New Jersey for about 30 years, has a brother in Toms River, graduated from Montclair State and now lives in Florida.  Small world, isn't it?After about half an hour, we decided to ask when they were going to take the boat out.  Now she tells us, not enough people so can't go.  Bummer!

Herb suggested we share a taxi back to Ibarra, so it only cost us $1.00.  The taxi dropped us off at the museum in town and we spent a while touring it.  Very nice museum, nicely laid out and displays were well done. After the museum we walked around the park and found a nice restaurant to have lunch.  I had chicken in a delicious sauce, with rice, French fries, and salad.  Ron had only French fries and salad, but the best part was my lemonade and Ron's juice that tasted like strawberries.  Best lemonade I've ever had. After lunch we tried to find a bus to go to the woodcarving town of San Antonio de Ibarra.  Gave up after 10 or 15 minutes and took a taxi.  We cannot learn that all the shops close for siesta, so since we were there about one o'clock, there wasn't much open.  Just as well-most of the stuff was unattractive, and we couldn't find anything we wanted to buy.  We saw lots of buses coming and going, so we flagged one down and hopped on.  We even managed to see where we needed to get off to go back to the bus station for the bus back to Cotacachi.  We are getting pretty good at getting around on buses.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Future Latino Rock Star

Today is Sunday, and we are taking a day of rest. It is market day, though, so we went and bought veggies and fruit for the coming week. Also stopped in at our nearby Super Mercado for some dish soap and my Chilean wine-in-box. In general, there are high taxes on things that are deemed "luxuries" such as high-end hotel rooms, alcohol, electronics, and airline tickets. But we found this wine and think it is pretty good, and it is only $6 for the box which lasts several days. In the plaza near the market there was a family of indigenous Ecuadoreans who were playing and singing. The group consisted of a father and his two sons. The daughter was working the crowd selling CD's for $2. Mom was doing the off-stage work and watching the baby. They were great and I have posted a video on You Tube so you can see a future Latino rock star. Watched the Open Championship and were thrilled to see Ern ie win another major. He is so gracious and easy to like. Tiger had a tough day, but held it together admirably.