On my second week in Ecuador, I took a weekend trip up north to one of the most renowned indigenous towns in Ecuador, Otavalo. Otavalo is known to old a very prominent population of indigenous, Quechua people. The inhabitants of this town make sure to keep their culture and traditions alive in various ways. One of the ways they have been able to do so is by selling their traditional goods and services in a wide market. The Otavalo market is split in two because one market is where all the goods and services are sold while the other market specializes in the selling of animals and live stock.
(An image of the fabrics, blankets, and clothes made to be sold in the primary Otavalo market)
(An image of myself feeding the rabbits that were being shown off to be sold in the livestock market in Otavalo)
After the Otavalo market, my class and I made our way to “El Museo de Tejido” which was located near San Rafael de la Laguna. At this museum we learned how weaving is a skill that has been practiced formally for years, and the reason that weaving has been kept around is because of how in demand the finished product is. We learned that the Otavalenos use the long, thick grass sticks that are found around the laguna. They are cleaned and then soaked in a warm bath. Once they have softened they start weaving in different patterns to make different objects, such as packets, chairs, canoes, dolls, etc. These products are long-lasting, sturdy, and durable, and the ability to produce and sell these products so successfully allows them to live off of their traditions and customs passed down from generation to generation.
(I was sitting in a playground outside of the Otavaleno market and right in front of a mural that emphasizes the importance of the laguna in which the weaving grass is found.)