Day 8 - Sat May 26, 2007 – Otovalo, Kotocache, Equator memorial – Bob: 122, Kathy: 106

In the middle of the night, Kathy got sick. She complained about a stomachache. After tossing and turning several hours, she actually threw up. She was miserable.

Since I didn't get sick, we could pretty much rule out food poisoning because we've been sharing each other's food the whole trip, and last night was no exception. As always, we passed our plates back and forth several times.

The town of Otovalo is famous for its Saturday markets: animal market, vegetable market, fruit market, and handicraft market. We came to this city specifically to visit them, and they only happen on Saturday.

We wanted to get up early, like 5:00am, and go to the animal market, but Kathy was so miserable that we didn't get moving until after 8:00am. She took some antibiotics (cipro, prescribed by our travel advisor, and boy am I glad he did) and a diarrhea pill and did her best. She didn't look very good though, and she moved slowly.

I took some photos of the roses and the hotel, but eventually we hit the streets.

We walked to the animal market and watched as the local people traded animals, but mostly just pigs and cows. In that respect, the other market we saw at Saquisili was more interesting because it had other animals: rabbits, guinea pigs, llamas, alpacas, sheep, goats and every kind of animal. Nonetheless, we watched for a long time and tried to take photos when we could.

Since Kathy was still sick, we took a taxi to the next market, which was the vegetable market. There was a huge display of fresh vegetables and fruit. There were cabbages larger than I've ever seen there, the size of watermelons. Again, we took lots of photos. It was very colorful.

The best thing about the vegetable market was when we came upon a very small child playing in a cardboard box with a cute little puppy. That was precious.

Oddly, there was meat at the vegetable market.

From there we walked to the handicraft market. This was what I had been waiting for since we left Minneapolis. Unfortunately, it was disappointing. The goods were mostly just shawls, blankets, jewelry and, well, junk. We bought a few things but I ended up a bit disappointed.

We found a cute little church and went inside for a change of pace.

We walked back to our hotel

where we spoke with one of the owners, and he was very interesting to talk to. We realized we were running short of cash, so he told us about an ATM that was back at the handicraft market. So while Kathy slept and packed, I walked all the way back to the market and got more cash. Luckily, it worked just fine, but only after a fight. It's funny how computers always fight me.

When I returned, we paid our bill and checked out of the hotel. We hired a taxi to take us back to Quito, but first we stopped at the nearby town of Kotocache which specializes in leather goods. We spent about an hour shopping for leather, then we hit the road.

We asked our taxi driver to take us to the Equator memorial near Quito. It was really kind of boring or silly, but I would have hated to visit Ecuador and not seen the memorial. We each had to have our photo taken straddling the line so that one foot was in the Northern hemisphere and the other was in the Southern hemisphere.

I had to laugh as I passed a plaque that said Bill Clinton had been there.

The books say that the “real” equator, as measured by modern GPS systems, is actually about a hundred feet North of where they placed the marker. I heard that it's actually in the middle of a restaurant, so I took a photo of the only restaurant that's just North of there.

The guide was really pretty patient with us while we shopped and gawked at the memorial. Then he took us to our hotel and dropped us off. He charged us a lot more money than I expected, but I didn't want to go through the bus ordeal like yesterday.

Unfortunately, our hotel put us up in room 22, which is at the very top of the hotel, up 46 stairs. I counted. It's tiring at this altitude, but not nearly as bad as when we were in Lhasa, Tibet.

After we dropped our bags off in the room, we walked down the street a couple blocks. We walked in the direction opposite of where we had before, when we had walked to the museum. Much to my surprise, this part of town was lively. There were lots of small restaurants and clubs. We found a nice looking little restaurant and ate hamburgers.

After dinner, we got more cash at an ATM machine then walked back to our hotel.