Ecuador: Buying Bizcochos and Shopping at Otavalo

On the last day of my stay in Ecuador, my host family took me to Otavalo, which is located north of Quito. That city is famous for its market of traditional Andean crafts. On our way there, my hosts wanted to introduce me to one of their favorite snacks, and they asked if I was willing to try it. Of course I was. So, we pulled off of the highway and straight into a small bakery that specializes in bizcochos.

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I’ve seen “bizcocho” defined as a pastry, a cookie, and a cake, and apparently it can differ depending on where you are when you buy one. These bizcochos were baked and flaky, and they tasted cheesy. They reminded me of my grandmother’s cheese straws (like those made with this recipe). They were so good that I had to have two.

By the time we made it to Otavalo, it had started raining heavily. But that doesn’t close a market that’s been operating for centuries. Folks just simply break out the plastic tarps.

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The pouring rain didn’t make for great photo opportunities, so I kept my camera under wraps during most of my time here. I had already decided, though, that this was where I was going to buy my souvenirs. There are lots of great, handmade products here. I picked up some table decorations, scarves, and a small painting for some of my relatives. I even decided to get a painting of Quito, just for me.

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You are certainly expected to haggle over the prices, and I got to experience a little bit of that, too. Even with my minimal Spanish abilities, flashing a simple “mmmm, I don’t know” kind of look on my face was enough to save me $5 on one of my purchases. If you buy more than one of the same item from a seller, they’ll cut you a deal, too.

On our way back to Quito, we stopped at the Puertolago Country Inn for some lunch. It’s tough to beat the tableside view. That’s Imbabura Volcano and San Pablo Lake.

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These next photos show some of the views from the back of the restaurant.

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Here’s what it looks like on the front side of the Puertolago Country Inn restaurant. There are several cabins located off to the left side.

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Bonus photo!

Just a few hours before my flight, my host family and I had some coffee and pastries at Corfu, a popular coffee shop/bakery in the Quito area. This one had a terrific open air seating area that provided some nice views of the city.

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