So the market in Otavalo was pretty fabulous. Definitely one of the most chill and authentic markets I've ever seen. Only a smattering of tacky touristy stuff. The Otavalenos have been producing artesania (traditional handicrafts) since before the Spanish came and forced them to do it for slave labor, and now it's a more liberating way to share their culture and (mostly) make some cash. The cool part is that it's not just a lot of crap they're selling that they picked up somewhere, you can see them all wearing the clothing and hair ties, belts, using the blankets etc. And you can see them knitting and weaving and such as well. Also, what a polite crowd. I mean they will be persistant if you are shopping at their stall, but never once was anyone anything but superpolite and no one would dream of giving you a hard time if you move on to the next stall. And almost everything is really nice quality and supercheap. I mean, alpaca coats and handwoven blankets that would cost a fortune the second they were imported to the us. It's very textile heavy, so keep that in mind when you get your holiday packages :)
Sara and her cousin Tasha are good at the touristy overloading on pictures, which nicely compensated for my practical strategy of not bringing my camera. So hopefully I can grab some pictures from them and share the absolutely breathtaking scenery we bussed through, and the cute kids at the market. We had absolutely perfect, gorgeous, sunny, weather all day. Which is more than I can say for the bus rides. It's incredibly cheap and easy to travel in Quito and around Ecuador by bus... it's 25 cents anywhere locally, and aprox. $1 per hour of distance outside Quito. And to travel outside the city you don't even have to go to a bus station or buy a ticket... You just go to a main road and hop on a bus that says your destination. The trade off is that the buses are horribly unreliable. First off, they stop every two second whenever anyone wasnts to get on or off, and they travel these curcuitious routes, and get held up in traffic and whatnot. This is why the Trole and Ecovia, with their fixed stops and designated lanes, are a godsend in Quito. Not to mention, the last three buses I've been on have all had to stop and kick off the passengers, for some unknown reason. The first one was a local bus, and the driver at one point hopped a curb and hit some people (not badly from what I could see) and either didn't notice or didn't care. Then a few minutes later we pulled over and they kicked us off and only gave us our money back after a lot of complaints. Then both the bus to Otavalo and from Otavalo stopped on the side of the dusty highway, presumably with mechanical problems, and sheparded us onto another bus (of course more crappy and without the enjoyable movie from the first bus).
More soon on my crazy new student, my gringa roommates, and hopefully a confirmation of a plane ticket to chicago!