October 19, 2006
Ecuador's Bittersweet Pill
BY Rick Young
Lucila, 47, stands at her stall inside Plaza de Ponchos in the Andean market town of Otavalo.
It'd been 22 years since I'd last been to Ecuador and I found a few changes to be sure. The capital, Quito, more than doubled in size, is now nearly cosmopolitan. The high mountain roads are a good deal less treacherous. And Otavalo, one of South America's premier market towns and my destination on this trip, has decorative streetlights, a movie house and a few too many Internet cafes.
Otavalo sits in an Andean valley about two hours north of Quito, and the town of 30,000 is shadowed by three towering volcanic peaks. What I remembered best about Otavalo was the Saturday market, where the region's indigenous artisans pour into the central square to peddle their hand-made wares.