(Fish fry Ecuadorian Style)
(Spices in bags)
(Cecilia trolling for treasures we desperately need and definately have room for in our bags)
We left telling our host that we were most interested in seeing the market and would probably not buy much at all....
(Cecilia holding up all the stuff we weren´t going to buy)
That´s just what didn´t fit in our backpack. Now comes the task of figuring out how to get alpaca blankets out of South America with our limited baggage space. Cecilia is convinced it can be done.
The Otavaleños are an interesting group. For the most part, folks seemed to be doing well in terms of health, etc. Of course there were a few beggars wandering around, but thats not out of the ordinary, as a blind man was navigating the small aisles in the fútbol match the next day. Aparently, the have maintained thier indiginous culture while establishing an economy based on these crafts that has allowed them to gain political power and elect the mayor and other provincial posts. So that´s good.
On to the important stuff. The next day, we went to the Stadio Olympico to watch Ecuador take on Chile. In World Cup Qualifying, Ecuador was 7th, with Chile in 5th, 4 teams from the region qualify. Sharing a group with the likes of Brazil and Argentina makes the remaining 2 spots very competitive. As there are no assigned seats beyond sections, we were told we should arrive early to stake out seats. Apparently early in this case means 3 hours before the match. So there we were, sitting on our concrete seats 3 hours before kickoff, ominous clouds looming on the horizon. It didn´t take long for those clouds to arrive and bring the rain that came down on and off the the entire 5 hours we were there. It didn´t seem to dampen anyone´s spirits though. With 2 hours to go, the "general" section unfurled a giant flag that covered the entire section.
There was no shortage of sights and sounds while we waited for kickoff...
(Airport is RIGHT in the center of town)
(In a show of hospitality, the home team allowed the opposing team´s tunnel to deflate...while they were in it)
(The cops were running low on TP, so the fans kindly gave them some of thier extra)
($2 beers beat the crap out of $8 beers at Qwest of Safeco fields)
The game itself was great. I´m sure there were more than a few puzzled Ecuadorians wondering who the hell this gringo was shouting at the top of his lungs in English at the ref´s, the opposing team, and directing the Ecuadorian team to push the ball to the wings and stop working everything through the middle of the pitch. There was no shortage of action in a game that saw 3, count them 3 red cards. 2 for Chile and 1 for Ecuador. Even playing almost the entire game with a man advantage, the Ecuadorians only manged a 1-0 victory (primarily b/c they refused to take my advice and spread the field). In the end, they got the 3 points they needed to take them to 5th in the tables. Big game coming up on Wed against Venezuala in Caracas. Hopefully C and I will find a raucus bar somewhere to take that one in.
If you made it to the end of this marathon post, thank you for indulging. Upcoming highlightsthis week will be doing nothing, saving the money we spent in Otavalo, and preparing for our trip to the Jungle this weekend.