231 Photos - Nov 17, 2013
Photo: Alpacas from the INGA alpaca farm.Photo: Ecuador is a small but amazingly diverse and colorful country. They use the U.S. $Dollar and gas is cheap! Rent a car (or better yet a motorcycle) and drive!Photo: Ecuador also include the famous Galapagos Islands.Photo: Brian really doesn't like seedless watermelons. Seems neither do Ecuadorians. Heaven.Photo: One of the many street vendors selling fresh produce.Photo: Just one of the many colorful alpaca markets in Ecuador. This one is in Otavalo, a city very proud of its ethnic culture and fiber traditions.Photo: Starting the trip with a celebratory tone in Quito, Ecuador.Photo: Brian spent a lot of time staring at maps... "seeking the road less traveled". Oh boy, did we find them!Photo: We rented a bike from Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental in Quito.  We did our own tour as we had places we needed to visit and people we needed to see :)  Court  was very helpful with ideas of places to see and routes to take!Photo: Our first roadside food stop.  This style of food is ubiquitous in Ecuador.Photo: um yeah, "You'll experience Spring like weather in Ecuador" they say. Well it RAINS in Spring!  Luckily Brian can ride and the "wee-Strom" (a small 650cc Suzuki dual sport motorcycle) could handle pretty much anything we threw at it.Photo: Local ladies in their normal dress in Otavalo, Ecuador. An exciting lively marketplace  bursting with color.Photo: These are likely from Peru. Peru still dominates the alpaca products industry but Ecuador does produce some wonderful quality items.Photo: Otavalo, Ecuador market, a blase with color.Photo: Not costumes, these are the normal attire of the locals. Beautiful!  We also saw many stores which sold the materials for making the dresses.Photo: The market in Otovalo had so many fresh fruits and vegetables. This is where the locals shop. The tourist stuff is in the front.  Lunch $1.30.Photo: Photo: many items here... a mix of Ecuadorian and Peruvian products can be seen.Photo: The back yard of the La Posada del Quinde in Otovallo.  Maggie the owner is from the US and is an ex school teacher.  She was very helpful getting us the names of places to go look for alpaca products.  Breakfast was yummy with fresh baked bread and homemade jams and juices.Photo: Photo: Soft alpaca blend blanket throws but the 1000s!Photo: We had good rain gear!Photo: You don't get more local than this. Farmers walk with animals into town or share a farm truck to sell items in town.Photo: Beautiful Spanish inspired architecture in most towns.Photo: Interesting government and political messages throughout Ecuador. We read this as buy fair trade.Photo: The little "hump" sign should be a lot bigger! The speed bumps are mountainous!Photo: Celebratory statues of the indigenous peoples abound.Photo: There is probably a volcano under there.Photo: Photo: This looked like a nice place to stay. Next time!Photo: Travel at your own risk. Pay attention!Photo: Still not sure what was growing on the power lines here. Some sort of vegetation fuzz balls.Photo: One of the neat homes along the road.Photo: Photo: Yep, the road less traveled.Photo: Roads like these are made by hand. We saw that in numerous towns.Photo: Brian enjoys a nice lunch in Otavalo.Photo: We jumped off the bike and stood on the other side of it when these bulls came walking down the narrow dirt road we were on. They were indifferent to us. Thankfully it was not a RED bike! :)Photo: Note the small stick... that's all he needed.Photo: Ooops!  We're no longer on ANY road!Photo: OK, this "road"... with sharp rocks and loose mud.. it was a but much!Photo: Brian, enjoying his rental bike in Ecuador. That metal plate, under the bike, got a lot of use!Photo: Locals.Photo: Paula, surviving the mud run, poses for a shot as we stop in a 10x10' shop for a soda.Photo: There was one town in the middle of nowhere with some beautiful shops. We have to go back.Photo: Outside Otavalo we visit a small manufacturer of alpaca blankets and scarves. Very low overhead by USA standards!Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Some of this equipment looked like it might jump out and grab you!Photo: A big old noisy contraption which makes beautiful alpaca blankets.Photo: Photo: Brian visiting with local mill outside Otavalo, Ecuador.Photo: This nino did a nice song for us after we visited the mill.Photo: Wooden loom used daily for alpaca scarves and throws.Photo: Photo: Photo: Hand spins yarn onto cones.Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Jose Luis demonstrates the art of the hand/foot loom.Photo: Photo: It is COLD! and we've been riding for hours... lets get some hot lunch.Photo: Cuy, a local delicacy... is Guinea Pig!Photo: So we order the meat sampler... but all the meats tasted differently. 2/3rds through we look up the names. It was ALL organ meats!Photo: Ah, the center of the world.Photo: Brian at The Middle of the World!Photo: Paula, half in the Northern hemisphere, half in the Southern.Photo: Photo: We had to do a lot of detouring.Photo: This church looked a bit run down on the outside but the inside was AMAZING!Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Local markets full of color.Photo: We met the nicest lady in this little town. She lived in Connecticut and gave us tips for local excursions.Photo: Photo: This is a house!  They are scattered along the hillsides. Would have loved to stay in one for one night!Photo: ..and the farm.Photo: Photo: Photo: Sorry, road is out for 2 hours.Photo: Lake QuilotoaPhoto: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Slip sliding away...Photo: A number of the roads are works in progress. But our mode of transportation takes this stuff in stride. Almost seems to ask for it.Photo: Loose wet mud is not Brian's favorite.Photo: The whole town was on road duty it seemed. Some ladies with babies on their back.  Roads are dug and stones laid by hand.Photo: Brian teeters the bike on a round a few times than slowly scoots is off in this town of broken roads.  The metal plate on the bottom was invaluable.Photo: Note front wheel... off the ground! :)Photo: Some of the other traffic you have to watch for in Ecuador. Though they seem to know the proper way to travel on the highway.Photo: Photo: Brian enjoys the day at Lake Quilatoa, EcuadorPhoto: Where else would we stay at Quilotoa Lake? The Inn was rustic but beautiful and the bed with thick alpaca comforter was awesome!Photo: Brian has to drive around the laundry room to get in the hotel.Photo: Literally in the hotel! They insisted we park it in the lobby.Photo: Numerous other motorcycles shared the lobby.Photo: This bed at the Hosteria Alpaka was comfortable and warm!Photo: Brian had a fire going in no time.  Not until the next morning did he realize that they dip the logs in oil to start the fires downstairs!Photo: Photo: Paula enjoys a little one in the Hosteria Alpaka sitting room.Photo: The Gamin says we could go this way.Photo: But no... it got kind of wet and nasty quickly.Photo: Photo: Photo: After days of riding the high mountains of Ecuador we found them! Alpacas!!Photo: sad. one lone alpaca in someone's yard. Alpacas need to be with other alpacas.Photo: Lake QuilotoaPhoto: In this town everyone was working on the streets.  Even women with babies on their backs.Photo: Not a good start to this day.  The road is closed due to a landslide.  Looks like it's plan B.Photo: OK, so we can't to this way and we can't go that way and we don't want to stay in the broken roads town....hmmmm....Photo: We take an alternate route and find....Photo: Plan B turned out to be great!  We found Alpacas in the town of Apagua.Photo: Brian stops to enjoy the alpacas and the beauty of their home in the high mountains of Ecuador.Photo: Paula sees the beauty of alpacas living on a vivid landscape.Photo: Ecuadorian alpacas act pretty much like American alpacas. Interested for a bit then, eh, go back to eating.Photo: This one was more interested than most.Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Note the home in the background.  Brian loves motorcycles... so took a lot of pictures of this one.Photo: We meet a lady walking up the hill toward us. Paula tries to explain, with our old paper catalog of pictures and weak Spanish that we're seeking alpacas, "and this scarf is made of alpaca". Before we realized it this lady "accepted" Paula's scarf. :)Photo: Brian poses with our new friend, an alpaca farmer in Apagua,  Ecuador.Photo: Many shops in the small towns are this size.Photo: Plan B didn't quite work out as planned.  This road is closed til morning.Photo: Waterfalls abound in Ecuador's mountains.Photo: Simple elegance in Banos, a tourist destination with hot springs and much more.Photo: uh-oh.... I think the tire is loosing air. Nice of Freedom Bike Rentals to give us a battery operated air pump.Photo: A beautiful hotel we did not get to enjoy on this trip.Photo: Per Brian "There's no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing"  In this photo Paula is wearing.  Leggings, jeans, pajama bottoms, rain pants, thermal top, tshirt, hoodie, layering jacket, leather jacket, rain jacket, alpaca chollo, alpaca socks and is about to put on her alpaca gloves.  She gave away her alpaca scarf earlier in the day.Photo: Photo: Brian's all layered up and ready to ride.Photo: Many beautiful churches in Ecuador.Photo: Photo: Nice parks abound in many town squares.Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Checking out the local wares at yet another market. We purposely rode all over the high country seeking alpaca vendors, manufacturers and ...alpacas.Photo: A mix of local and Peruvian alpaca and blended products.Photo: A pharmacy going about marketing for business in an unusual way.Photo: Photo: Photo: La Jolla, CA is the address of PurelyAlpaca... and we love Thai food. Just had to go here!Photo: Photo: Photo: Local farmer cattle transport company.Photo: "pig town". numerous street side restaurants selling pork el naturale.Photo: The tour bus we rode in Cuenca during the day became a young adults party bus at night. Pretty wild by USA standards as bottles of wine and whiskey could be seen passed around.Photo: The road to Ingaprica was closed to traffic.  So they sent us on a little detour.Photo: Paula walked.Photo: To get through to the other side Brian had to ride through some trees.  We had to take the side bags off the bike to make it fit.Photo: Just part of the AlpacaVenture!Photo: On of the national ruins museums in Ecuador.Photo: Photo: Photo: Nice old style restaurant near the Incapira ruins. Hotel too.Photo: Photo: We were so proud of the Spanish we learned in classes before traveling to Ecuador...claiming to be at the level of a 3 yr old... until we met this 3 yr old! :)Photo: Our main tools of travel.Photo: Comida tipico - typical food in Ecuador. Chicken, fries, rice and a veggie. We saw this everywhere.Photo: Photo: Incapira ruins. The guides were very good.Photo: Photo: A local near Incapura bringing home hay she likely cut herself for her animals.Photo: Some bulls hog the road.Photo: Photo: Photo: Some towns has alpacas hanging out in suburban yards or fields or even in town.Photo: Photo: Brian likes it but what is that spice?Photo: On another cold wet day we found this little restaurant and soup dish after seeking alpacas in a small down. The hot potato, veggie and meat soup was just what we needed to warm up. Brian liked the flavor of the brown spice that came with it. Asking the restaurant waitress in broken Spanish what it was... we were wondering why she smiled and hesitated... "sangre de cerdo" was her reply. Pigs Blood!  

Good thing Brian ate it BEFORE asking!Photo: Sustainable Kerosene truck.Photo: Photo: Big alpaca fiber spinner at local mill.Photo: Well used hand shears used in most remote Ecudorian farms.Photo: Alfred and Mary Lou of Inga Alpaca show us the fiber processing equipment. Alfred is a long experienced businessman. Mary Lou is fashion trained. Together they produce beautiful alpaca products!Photo: Photo: Brian discusses the processing of alpaca with Alfred or INGA Alpaca.Photo: Spinning alpaca thread.Photo: Photo: The art of alpaca processing, sorting fleece.Photo: Photo: Mary Lou demonstrates a pedal loom.Photo: Brian appreciates some of the final INGA products in their shipping warehouse.Photo: A natural color 100% alpaca ball of yarn.Photo: Final product off to a store in New York or Philadelphia.Photo: Heavy high quality NATURAL color alpaca blankets from All Things Alpaca Ecuador.Photo: The Natural Alpaca Blankets from Ecuador offer amazing luxurious warmth and taste to your decor.Photo: Inga Alpaca fashions.Photo: Inga Alpaca fashions.Photo: Back in Quito, we spot the university of Stephen Hawking.Photo: Inga Alpaca fashions.Photo: The Hop-on -  Hop-off bus is a quick way to see what you want to see more of in Quito.Photo: Not all things are cheaper in Ecuador. Brian bought a t-shirt for $78.  The motorcycles are about 2x more expensive than in the USA. We heard there are Harleys in Ecuador and this beautiful shop surely must sell some...but we never saw one in 10 days of riding.Photo: Yep. they are here.Photo: Very active central park in Quito, Ecuador.Photo: ...with a zip line!Photo: Amazing churches in the capital city.Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: A local entertainer we found very enjoyable while sipping coffee at a wonderful museum in the Plaza de Sanfrancisco in the beautiful city of Cuenca.
See the All Photos option to see other shots of interesting honeycomb shop within the museum.Photo: Ahhh.. coffee break in a day of walking tour in Quito.Photo: Photo: Wild collections of art for sale in Quito.Photo: Amazon pieces for sale in Ecuador's capital city.Photo: Photo: Inga Alpaca's scarf in a gallery in Quito.Photo: Kitschy products are available in many locations for tourists. Most of it is from Peru.Video: Alpacas, doing their thing in Alpagua, Ecuador.Photo: Thanks for visiting!