As Angel our driver from Hacienda Cusin drove up the hill, a vast lake appeared in the distance- the deep blue water surrounded by greeneries of all sizes, colorful buildings, mountains, farmland and cows that looked like small brown dots. We were in the village of Araque.
He said this is Lago San Pablo, Ecuador’s largest natural lake. Imbabura, the dormant volcano sits not far away. On our way to the village of Peguche we passed by the Cascada de Peguche and stopped to look at the unique yellow mora plants. The most common moras are the red ones. These are typical wild fruits of Ecuador.
Angel pointed to the left and said it is Parque Condor, a place to spot the majestic bird of the Andes.
In Imbabura province, Otavalo Market is the most popular destination for tourists looking for locally made souvenirs and meeting indigenous people. There are many villages in the surrounding areas that still preserve their traditional costumes and specialty skills like weaving, making musical instrument, hats, leather products and more. Each town is represented by one specialty skill and one product.
The village of Peguche is famous for weaving. We stopped at Jose Cotacachi’s weaving house and store. Jose is an Otavaliano who learned the art of weaving from his father over 45 years ago when he was a teen. He ran the store with his brother-in-law and wife. Jose sells sweaters, bags, scarves and little bags for smartphones.
At the edge of Peguche village we met another Jose who owns a workshop making Otavalo flutes like pallas and rondador. He demonstrated the art of making pallas made from special reed from the coast.
Jose also performed using various musical instruments. There is no fee to watch the demonstration and impromptu performances but guests are encouraged to buy the merchandise.
Iluman village is famous for hat making. These hats are different from the Panama Hats of Cuenca. Across from the hat maker’s workshop is the Shaman and his wife sitting outside his home waiting for customers.
For leather and a good meal we stopped at the town of Cotacachi. Cotacachi is famous for its leather goods. Every store in town sells leather bags, shoes, belts and jackets.
If you are looking for a place to eat, go to La Marqueza Restaurant. It offers traditional Ecuadorian food and provides live Ecuadorian music during Sunday’s lunch. Try their carnes coloradas.