Otavalo and the Artisan Market

As I have said before, I prefer the countryside to the city streets.  Ecuador has a beautiful landscape, especially when you are driving through the mountain ranges.  Cattle, pigs, and goats, along with cornfields and other crops, dot the mountains and fields.  The altitude is around 9500 ft above sea level, give or take, and while the Ecuadorians are accustomed to this, it is remarkable how high up into the mountains they farm the land and how high up the hills you see the animals grazing.
The Panamerican Highway is the main road that took us everywhere on our journey.  It is known as the "longest motorable road" in the world, covering 30,000 miles from North America to South America.  Might I add, it is full of steep inclines and declines, sharp curves and part of it along cliffs.  At one point we were driving through the clouds we were so high up.  It was nothing to see farmers and other pedestrians walking on this tedious road, moving their cattle from one plot to another.
Our first road trip took us out of Quito and on to Otavalo, about a three-hour drive.  Our destination was Hacienda Pensaqui, a property that once was a textile factory.  Pensaqui has been in the same family for seven generations.  I am unsure when the family converted the textile factory into a hacienda, but I do know it was renovated and opened for guests in 1995.  We arrived around eight o'clock in the evening, greeted by the manager of the hacienda.  He had a drink with us by the fire before taking us into the dining room for a late dinner.
The caretakers of these Haciendas and Inns are the best.  They make you feel like you are the only guest in the place.  In some cases you might be, we were one of two couples the first night at the Hacienda.  We were there in the offseason.
The sun-filled foyer
Old door and hardware
We awoke to beautiful views behind the hacienda and couldn't wait to explore.
Typical breakfast
After breakfast, we walked the grounds and familiarized ourselves with the local flora which we would enjoy throughout most of the trip.
Agapanthus and Calla Lillies were everywhere.
Fresh every day
Spanish moss
Feathered friends in the pond
Tree-lined drive
In case anyone is wondering, the bases of the trees are painted to keep away certain pests.
A local band entertained us in the bar the second night.
Me and a vendor in the market
The artisan market in Otavalo is known as the largest and most popular in South America.  I brought back several of the straw bags pictured above. 
The market flows throughout the town.
I knew that I wanted a specific poncho-style and I found a few different styles. 
The women do not like to have their pictures taken, but the men love it.  I bought a few of these shawls too.
There are more than handmade goods at this market; some come here to do their weekly grocery shopping too.
We continued to enjoy the people, culture, and beautiful views this country has to offer.
Next stop: Cotacachi for leather goods and on to Hacienda la Cienega.