Otavalo is one of the most important markets in South America. It is located in the city of Otavalo in the Imbabura Province of Ecuador. The town shows colonial architectures, with narrowed streets. The people known as the “Otavaleños” have conserved their traditions with perseverance, exposing their culture and beliefs proudly.
The town encloses approximately 50,000 inhabitants and it is located on a precious site, by being a city enclosed and surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, such as the Imbabura 4,630m, Cotacachi 4,995m, and the Mojanda volcanoes.
The inhabitants are mainly indigenous, followed by mestizos and a small percentage of afro-ecuadorian. The indigenous people are mainly dedicated to the production and commerce of textile crafts, meanwhile the others focus on different activities such as stores, transport, tourist services etc.
In the market you will find colors, textures and handcrafts. Hammocks, shigras, ponchos, sweaters, hats, necklaces, tablecloths, earrings, bags and many other crafts are the center of attention for tourists as well for native people that come to the market in order to buy these amazing products at great prices. The indigenous crafts give great recognition to otavalos at an international and national level. The products of ancestral origins are a strong factor for the local economic sector since the products are made for markets abroad.
One of the great things to notice is the clothes for women. The vestment consists on white embroidered blouses, with flared lace sleeves, followed by a black skirt with a cream or white underskirts. The women’s long black hair is tied back with a colorful ribbon that matches the band of their waists. Their necks are also decorated with beautiful necklaces made of strings of gold. Men wear much simpler clothing, just using white trousers and dark blue ponchos.
The native language of the Otavaleños is Quechua, commonly known as the primary mother-tongue of the Inca empire. It does not have any similarity with the Spanish language, although some words from Quechua have been introduced and incorporated into the Spanish language, such as Ñaña (sister), Taita (father), achachay (expression to denote a feeling of cold), and chacra (farm).
Music has been a primordial sector in Otavalo. Since the town is also recognized as being the wedge for artists and compositors of Ecuadorian music, it has served as musical contribution with indigenous folkloric groups, with national and international trajectory.
There are many forms of transportation for getting to this town, the easiest way being by bus. From Quito, there is the possiblility to take the interprovincial buses, known as the Transportes Otavalo and Los Lagos, which arrives directly to the city of Otavalo.