Not sure what I expected, but my excitement plummeted fast when I walked around Otavalo, Ecuador’s most famous tourist trap. All streets in the center of Otavalo are paid parking, 50 cents/hr. Ecuador learns fast, builds few kilometres of highway and puts up a toll booth, then sets up paid parking on small city streets. Bought an hour worth of parking ticket at a nearby mixed goods store and took the camera for a walk in the artisans market. It was like deja vu all over again. About half of the market was the same ‘traditional’ stuff as in Mexico, Guatemala, name it. The striped pants, the ponchos, bed throws, not going to make a list of it. About 1/4 of the stuff seemed local then some from other parts of the country, of course the Ecuador hats, known to the rest of the world as Panama hats. I recalled what the tour lady said at Homero Ortega hat factory, the ones not passing QC will end up in artisan markets. She was right, the Panama hats available in Otavalo market are lower quality. Do yourself a favour, if you visit Ecuador and you plan to visit Cuenca get a hat from Homero Ortega, you’ll pay a bit more but will end up with a fine piece of lid. No, I did not get a free hat from them to say this. After 20 minutes in the artisan market enthusiasm was floored, probably if this market would have been among the first ones I visited, I would have been more keen about it. Moved the van to a closer spot to the town centre, I guess the parking ticket was ‘flex’ if not I made it that way. Took a walk in the centro then in the nearby mercado, not much lift in enthusiasm. Started up Big White and after checking out two of the camping possibilities in Otavalo shook my head and drove out to Ibarra to Finca Sommerwind.  It was like ‘Willkommen en Alemania’. I guess I was the only camper without German heritage. There are four house dogs in the campground, which just would not stop jumping all over me and trying to get into the van. I smell like a dog, I know, the van smells like dog. Finally, no choice but I had to walk Blaze which ended up with the dogs getting right on him. Dogfight. All I needed after a dusty day. I got right in the middle of it and I told the dogs that one more bark and I’ll bite them. They looked at me with doubt but 10 seconds later they were walking off the scene as I was not joking at all. I think they felt the vibe. I have been in other campgrounds with dogs, but nothing like these. I already miss the previous Hacienda camping at the base of Cotopaxi where we spent the previous four nights. Now that I think of it that was the best campground so far in Ecuador. Anyways here are some Otavalo snapshots below. Maybe I change my mind later about Otavalo, but for now it’s classified as tourist trap in my mind.

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