The morning we decided to leave Medellin I don’t think we quite realised how long it would be until our next bed. After changing our minds a few times along the way we bit the bullet and said f@$& it – let’s just go to Ecuador! Researching flights it seemed impossible to fly without spending $400 one way p/p and even though we weren’t on a crazy tight budget – that was ridiculous! So alas, we decided to begin our overland journey and cross one of the most notoriously dangerous border crossings in the world via bus – for $50! The night before I had nervously read accounts of lost/stolen luggage, broken down buses in the middle of the night and poor miscommunication from buses leaving travellers stranded. The main tip seemed to be ‘whatever you do – don’t cross the border at night!’. Leaving Medellin at 2pm we caught a very comfortable bus for 9 hrs to the city of Cali and from Cali boarded a sketchy bus at midnight to the Col/Ecu border. Well not exactly. The bus said it dropped you at the border which really means ‘we will drop you 2 hrs out so you’ll will need to get in a smaller bus, two taxis and cross the border on foot’. Breezing through immigration we were stamped out of Colombia and into Ecuador with no worries! Woo hoo! Changing our Colombian Pesos to American Dollars at the border was also painless – even if we did possibly, maybe buy black market currency. I am proud to say that 28 hours after boarding in Medellin we arrived in Otavalo, Ecuador with nothing but a few sore necks and tired eyes.
We stayed the night in Otavalo, a small town in the Andeas famous for it’s (very short so we look like giants) indigenous community and their Saturday market. We were lucky to wake up market day morning and see the town turned into a labyrinth of stalls selling hand made souvenirs, fresh fruit and veg, raw meats and even live animals (we didn’t check that section out). As we walked through the maize of merchants we began testing our Spanish as we bartered to trinkets. We split from our translator Zohra with words of advice to ‘remember you’re a gringo so they will try and sell everything for double the price!’. Knowing this I was more then happy to laugh off some of the prices we were told and watch as moments later a much cheaper version was agreed upon. It took a lot of strength to hold back on buying 100+ hammocks and ponchos but I made a practical purchase of a 100% wool, handmade sombrero – a steal at $15! I loved these markets and they were a fantastic start to our time in Ecuador.