Following an emotional send off from my Quito mama, Luz, and her family, I taxied with some Israeli travellers to the North Bus terminal in Quito, a good half hour drive away ($10). A few buses looked ready to go and we were quickly ushered onto a fairly empty one with window decorations and a soothing Spanish soundtrack (granted, a little sickly).
The first part of the journey was punctuated with stops that brought more sellers on board than there were passengers – make your choice from juice in a bag, crisps, cola, oranges, even almuerzo (a set meal usually consisting of rice and meat). One guy came on to preach and seemed pretty aggro. I had little idea what he was on about, other than that he mentioned his family and his corazon (heart). When we collectively didn’t pay up, he got angry and called us putas (purposefully no translation provided here). Nice. The policeman who came on board shortly afterwards to escort a guy off of the bus warned us to be careful. I was glad to be getting away from Quito, from the constant awareness needed to keep yourself safe.
The bus hurtled on round corners at stupid speeds along the Pan-American Highway, stopping only momentarily at a road block where two cars looked seriously smashed up but where thankfully drivers and passengers seemed to be okay. Within two hours we were dropped off on the roadside on the outskirts of Otavalo (we had picked the wrong bus, but it only meant a five minute hike to the hostel).
Otavalo, on first impressions seems to be a fairly tranquil, normal town (although bigger than anticipated) with people going about their business. There is a hint at tourism with hostels scattered about the place but overall the shops are your regular shops (although a coffin store isn’t something I’m completely used to seeing on the high street). Arriving on a Thursday possibly presents a more real account of Otavalo with few tourists present but I suspect that the hostels will fill tomorrow for the famous Saturday markets.