Pawkar Raymi in Otavalo Blog
However, in 1999, after the Ecuadorian currency took a nose dive, the country replaced its Sole with the U.S. Dollar, meaning the U.S. now has a vested interested in Ecuador not reverting to its own currency.
It makes you wonder how all this ties into the obvious anti-American sentiment exemplified by Assange being able to stay within the country's embassy in London.
On my bus from the border to Otavalo, a handsome young man doused in cologne and wearing a shiny suit started preaching. Or, that's what I first thought. It turned into a sales pitch for food supplements, him talking about a wide range of subjects, including Hugo Chavez' death of cancer, specific local dishes and a host of diseases.
I stayed in a small village just outside of. Otavalo, where, on my first morning, I was woken up by fireworks and big bands. Investigating, it turned out to be part of a festival, called Pawkar Raymi, with groups in different styles of traditional clothing parading alongside more modern big bands playing versions of what I presumed were indigenous classics.
Here, part of traditional women's dress is carrying a brightly colored blanket, typically folded up and worn on the head, somewhat like a hat. And, the country not for nothing having been named after the equator, even at 3000m altitude and a mostly clouded sky, whenever the sun brakes through the clouds, it's blistering hot.
Otavalo is known for its arts and crafts market. On the town's central square for seven days a week, on Saturdays, the stalls spill over into many of the side streets, combining into what's said to be the largest market in South America.