NORTHERN HIGHLANDS, COTACACHI ECUADOR

 

In the Andean Highlands, north of Quito, it felt like old home week but with much improved roads. Nearly a decade ago I dabbled in the import export business with purchases in the Otavalo and Cotacachi area. Once completing an informative seminar on the ins and outs of suitcase importing, we loaded eight duffle bags with hand made goods from the area to sell back in the States. Trunk shows in the homes of gracious hosts displayed the hand knitted or woven alpaca and wool sweaters, luscious shawls, wraps, scarves and hats, leather goods and tagua jewelry. Purchasing beautiful handmade items from far off places in the intimate surroundings of the homes of friends was fun for those attending and for me, producing the shows was a good excuse to travel!

After spending months downsizing before our departure on our Drive the Americas adventure we thought it best to avoid the weekly Saturday handicrafts market in Otavalo lest we be tempted by some gorgeous alpaca piece which I simply couldn’t live without. Efficiently living out of a truck reminds us daily that we don’t have room for anything and more importantly we simply don’t need anything.

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Cotacachi, a small village north of Otavalo just west of the Panamericana became our home for a few days. Back in the beautiful Spanish colonial hotel of our past (renamed The Land of the Sun) we found it just as lovely but with new owners. The former owners who tirelessly conducted a variety of educational seminars like the import export class I attended and enthusiastically promoted the delights and value of Ecuador had sold all of their holdings in Ecuador and moved back to US. I suppose things change along with perspectives and needs regarding living internationally. Attracted to the beautiful highland surroundings, appealing climate and low cost of living, we were told that an expat community of about 800 resides in the Cotacachi area. Apparently for some, the attraction endures and many are quite content in their new home.

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