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Expat Life: Exploring the Otavalo Market

We recently visited the world-famous Otavalo Market in northern Ecuador where local merchants offer a dizzying array of textiles made with incredibly soft alpaca wool. Occupying an entire city block, it’s one of the largest indigenous markets in Latin America.

Asking prices are extremely low by North American standards, but since bartering is expected you can easily find yourself wondering how you’re going to fit an armload of goodies you just bought into your suitcases!

The towns of Otavalo and Cotacachi, where we stayed with friends, are both located in the Andean highlands. The gorgeous scenery of this part of Ecuador is dotted with many of the country’s volcanoes. Here is a view of Cotacachi volcano.

Our photos show some of the beautiful products available at the Otavalo Market! The craftsmanship is exceptional and the colors are so vivid.

Textiles aren't the only merchandise offered. Here we are with some traditional Ecuadorian art. You’ll find all kinds of jewelry, particularly silver, plus ceramics, leather goods, and much more.

The little stuffed animals here are made from alpaca. You know the ones in front as pets called guinea pigs. In South America they are a culinary delicacy known as cuy.

We thought this embroidery work was exquisite.

Did you know that Panama hats originated in Ecuador? Many of the best ones are handmade in Cuenca. Here are a few beauties on display.

After almost a decade of expat life and exploring much of Ecuador, so glad we finally made time for a visit to this area of the northern Andean highlands!


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