Trisas, traditional clothes and lovely people
I regret not being able to stay longer in lovely Ecuador is not staying longer. A total of 10 days here is not enough to fully enjoy the beauty of the landscape and the variety of vegetation, animals etc. Unfortunately though, I got really sick in Colombia and had to stop several times, and even in Otavalo I had to spend 6 days resting and on antibiotics. Yet, I managed to get a feel of it, and fall in love with the place entirely, enjoy the architecture, the Otavalo market, and the culture.
The first impression I got when crossing the border is that of a people are proud of its culture and history, struggling to keep its identity and traditions, at the same time winking at modernity. In Otavalo, people walk around the busy city wearing their traditional clothes – long skirts and a bunch of golden coloured necklaces for women; white pants and hats for men; and men proudly keep their trisas: long, beautiful, shiny dark hair carefully braided. The same applies to children. Men change their hats depending on the indigenous group they belong to – an inheritance of the Spanish dominion, when they were forbidden to wear plumes. So, in order to distinguish themselves, they started wearing different colour and shape hats. All the while, they speak on their smartphones, chat via whatsapp, and carry around tablets. Coming from a land where people have a strong identity that sometimes seems to be getting lost, I am all the more happy to see this.
What is also striking is that, although there are a lot of places to visit in Ecuador, crushed between two countries such as Colombia and Peru which receive large amount of tourists, it is far less touristy. Yet, backpackers are welcome and won’t be disappointed. The place is greatly organised, so easy to go around. The country is – I dare say – almost spotless. Hostels are nicer than average: larger rooms, hot water everywhere (which doesn’t go without saying in this continent). Hardly any garbage in the street. But, what I enjoy the most, is the warmth of the people. Hostel owners always smile, taxi drivers are up to a chat, and everybody is polite and ready to help.
I wish I could stay longer, but I am on such a tight schedule that I can’t. This is a place worth coming back, and for sure I will. And next time, I will have really long hair myself!