… and overshooting our budget at the Otavalo Market
After a few days of resting and walking around Quito (where family friends were offering us a home) we headed to the city of Otavalo which is famous for its market of local handicrafts, which is especially furnished on Saturdays. So on a Saturday we went, after taking a bus on friday night to make sure we wouldn’t miss anything! And because those kinds of places are pretty turistic and we like feeling like we are alone in a place, and also because we are a bit excessive, we set the alarm on 4:30am and headed to the market, eyes half shut and with probably some sheet marks still printed on our faces. This gave us the time to enjoy an average breakfast straight from the panaderia while admiring the show of everybody setting up their stands. This was the calm part. Then began the frenetic one where we ended up buying way more than our bags could handle. This control loss later took the form of an 11kg parcel sent directly to France through Correos del Ecuador, the national postal service. One week later everything was safe and sound with our families. We felt happy and light, ready to launch a second round in Peru!
After shopping came… camping! We had heard of the Fuya Fuya peak from which we could see the Cotopaxi and definitely wanted to go sleep there. Time to leave our beautiful bags and textiles and alpaca cuddly toys (yes we did buy that) at the hotel reception and go back to wilderness. The laguna de Mojanda is only 30 minutes from Otavalo and you have no other way to get there than to either walk (urk no) or take a cab. We went for option B which dropped us off at the edge of the laguna, surrounded with mountains, and we started walking.
It took us almost an hour to realize we had started walking without actually knowing where we were going. Which one of those peaks was the Fuya Fuya? No damn clue. And THEN I realized I had a GPS on my phone that worked without 3G nor wifi (for those who are interested : Citymaps2go is the name of our saviour). So yeah took us around 2 hours to realize that. We feel bright and proud! Of course the direction we had taken was going on the opposite side of the Fuya Fuya, but it was going toward the Cerro Negro, a way more scary and dramatic peak. The Fuya Fuya was a little bump on the floor compared to this mystic rugged moutain.
So we continued walking for a while looking for a place to pitch our tent. And we eventually found the perfect place, a dome of approximately 70 meters high, which came right on time as Amaury was beginning to feel tired (I was doing great!).
To make it short: One of the most challenging (trying to see the positive side of this experience) night ever. 1. It was freezing cold (we were at 4108m high) 2. Turns out the top of the dome wasn’t so flat and we spent the whole night sliding toward the bottom of the tent. We found the strength to laugh about it at the time. I don’t know how. Probably the nerves.
But the view the next morning made up for all of this. The Cotopaxi on one side, the laguna on the other side, and nobody but us and the sound of our camping-stove caramelizing some bananas. This was heaven.
Probably wouldn’t have been so peaceful would if we have known the trail that separated us from the spot from which we could then take a cab back to Otavalo. Trail is actually a big word for what was actually a 3 hour walk in a mix of very low tree forests, mud, high grass and swamp. Good times!
And when we thought it might just have been the beginning of the walking as there were zero taxi in the parking lot, we saw the light again with 3 policemen offered to drive us back to Otavalo. We felt good but dirty, it was time to go back to our Quito cocoon!