A boy is pulling two pigs over the famous Panamericana, which is a disappointingly medium-sized road here in the North of Ecuador. We are here for the renowned Saturday market of Otavalo, one of the famous Ecuadorian markets. Finally we find the animal market behind cardboard boxes full of chicklets and rice bags full of guinea pigs. The guinea pigs are a delicacy in Ecuador and we see prospective buyers probing the belly of the cute rodents .
Cattle auction or cancer education?
From a loudspeaker mounted on a van some loud announcements are blaring over the cows – a cattle auction, we guess. But no, after a while of listening we can make out that it is an educational sermon about prostate cancer. A closer inspection of the van confirms this: the car is decorated with appropriately grizzly pictures. Next to the van an ice-cream seller is stomping through the mud carrying a plate of ice-cream and cones on her head. In spite of the location and the unpleasant weather she easily finds customers.
Those craving more hearty snacks or an early lunch try their luck with intestine soups and whole roasted pigs in the stalls all around the animal market.
A few blocks away from the animal market the town is teeming with other, less smelly items being sold. In Otavalo, several roads in the centre are closed for traffic, and rows of temporary market stalls connect the food, textile and handicraft markets set up on all the squares.
A few days later we are visiting another weekly Ecuadorian market in the small town of Saquisilí near Latacunga. Contrary to Otavalo there are almost no proper stalls, everything is just laid out on the concrete floor under the multi-purpose roof that we see in all the Ecuadorian villages. We try Moroccho (a sweet rice porridge drink). „Isn’t it really good? If I have two glasses of it, I don’t need anything else until the evening“ an indigena lady tells Natascha. We can stock up on cookies and fruits before we head for a three-day hike in the Quilotoa area.