Chota

Chota

Thursday, 3 February 2011

{short trips from Quito}

There are numerous places to visit in just a short drive from Quito. The drive is usually pretty entertaining as well...as you pass small villages or farmlands, catching breathtaking views of the mountains from the road, or glimpsing winding rivers and ravines as you cross bridges. Highly recommended is a trip to Otavalo.
There are a few good restaurants on the way to Otavalo, so you can break up the drive with a stop for lunch, or you can do what we did, and stop off at the Lago San Pablo.
There is a restaurant (which I hear isn't the best) and lodgings you can also rent overnight, and the complex has a carpark where you can leave the car for a quick walk to the water's edge.


{me & my niece on the lake}

{my niece & sister, Esther, with lodgings to rent behind}


{my niece & sister being crazy. Note the altitude: 2660 metres}

When we arrived, the street was blocked & we had to drive through a huge crowd, as Father Christmas had just appeared to give out presents to the local underprivileged kids:

{check out this beautiful setting!}
 From there we headed on to Otavalo. Near Otavalo there is also a lovely hacienda you can go to for lunch,  Hacienda Cusin, and they also have rooms to stay in overnight. See my post on haciendas.
But the town of Otavalo is a delight to walk through, and at one end, they have a great market.

{a church in Otavalo}

{the market in Otavalo sells a variety of great things--yes some touristy stuff but you can also find some pretty tasteful things, from jewellery to sheepskin rugs... &  abundance of lovely scarves}


{great selection of hats too--I love the panama hats, & I couldn't resist so I bought one}
Most Otavalans wear traditional Otavalo dress: the women are dressed in long skirts (usually black), embroidered white shirts & wear gorgeous gold necklaces around their necks, which gives them an elegance even when they go about their everyday tasks.

Nearby Otavalo is the town of San Antonio de Ibarra, known for its production of sculpture. Because it was around Christmas when we visited, the shops were quite busy with people looking for a baby Jesus for their nascimentos. The central square is surrounded by shops selling a variety of sculpture: ranging from natural wood to delicately painted effigies, and from the tasteful to the garish.

 Another short trip from Quito is the sanctuary of the Virgin of Schoenstatt. We went on Christmas day--and it was a perfect place to visit on Christmas. The chapel is small and beautifully decorated, and in the architectural style of something you'd find in Northern Europe--which makes sense since the Schoenstatt movement was started in Germany. The sanctuary offers calm grounds to walk through & wonderful views.

{chapel & sanctuary of the Virgin of Schoenstatt}

{entrance to the sanctuary}

{altar of the Virgin in the chapel}


{gorgeous Eucalyptus trees permeate the air. The smell reminds me of Ooty, where my Dad grew up in the Nilgiris, which has a similar climate & elevation to Quito & its environs}



{gorgeous views}
{my niece took this photo, hence the angle}


{baby Juan de Dios & my sis walking around the grounds}


{more views}

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