Travelmag Banner

Mother-daughter dialogue: a letter from Otavalo

Dear Mom:

Aright so as you know I am in Otavalo. This place is like nothing you have ever seen before. Imagine a bag of skittles alrght. Ok you see the bag, now go inside the bag with your mind. Now in the bag are the skittles but also a freaking rainbow. Now do you see all that color? Do you see that none of that color actually makes sense because it’s just all over the place without knowing which was is up, and which was is left??? Yes thats now crazy it is. My experience took my hand and showed me that shopping will be forever changed.

pic: Jack Barker

So this huge market that takes up the whole city seemed to have been divided up. We have the remote control/cell phone section (because even a 100 year olds with wrinkles down to their knees need to be up on the tech…) we have the work boots and shoe section, a section for trendy wear (name brand clothing), as well as hats and musical instruments (because god forbid getting your bad banjo-Joe self down without a sun hat!), then at last the hand crafted art, textiles, and jewellery. It’s all rather amazing. So off I strolled down the remote control way to start off, (because when there is this much madness going on, there are no arrows pointing to where to start the market eye-googling.)

In some ways this section made me sad. You ask why? I would answer you, “It is not because I do not necessitate a remote control, or that I already have a cell phone, it was more the fact that every time I said no, I do not require what you are selling, the people gave me the saddest puppy dog eyes imaginable. It almost made me want to get a remote control even though I am not under certain TV obligations that require me to have such a device.” It gets better though. Once I said sorry and started to turn to walk away, they would grab my arm, and ask me what price I was willing to bargain them for. I found this rather thrilling. They offered me 15$ for the remote control, and were willing to bargain down to 8$, incredible.

Even though the idea of bargaining offered a wonderful story to tell, I would still be stuck with a remote control I had no need for! I said no again and made my way to turn. They grabbed my arm again, and said that if I wasn’t interested in a remote control, they had many other fine and lovely things to sell. I agreed with them that everything was fine and lovely, but I had to be on my way. Another sad face was gifted to me. I stood my ground and wagged my finger at them and continued forward. This went on for most of the sections.

This dramatically changed though when I got to the last section, the section that actually had things I was interested in buying. For the moment that I offered a price, the shop keeper would run off and find some mythical person to make sure the price I was offering was acceptable. This was most entertaining. I was well sold though, for I walked away with a children’s book, of a native tale, a fantastic handmade scarf, a small painting, some coconut juice, as well as some fried noodles to eat. I had only spent 40$, the book was the most expensive though. 15$!!! It was a beautiful little book, with an equally beautiful story, I was obligated, the artist’s wife sold it to me, I could not resist. Well mom, that is my Otavalo tale of adventure and shopping. I will keep you posted about my next adventure while in Ecuador. Chao!

Yours sincerely,


Dear Daughter:

As we are both rather tall, shopping in Ecuador is a bit of a challenge. As I am a size 9 1/2 foot and you are a 10 or even eleven, shoes are almost right out. And since you and I are nearly 6 ft. tall, pants and dresses are potentially problem too. So I have an idea to combat this. I will wear the difficult to find for long legs and big feet. I will wear shorts, skirts and find shoes in the form of flip flops and specialty hiking store hiking boots. I can use the excuse that we live in tropical Ecuador and no longer in the cold of Canada, that this is my protest for not covering up. We can bring in the fashion of grunge again as I seem to buying the mens clothes that fit better than the petite women that are mostly here, though heaven help me when they spot us on “Fashion Police”. The people are tiny here, I mean that my big boned dutch body and yours a mixture, of dutch of me and that mixture of Heinz 57 of your father, they seem all that smaller than us. Hence the clothes being so tiny. Since you are so much younger than myself, you will find, I am sure, all kinds of things to wear that are well suited for someone your age. As we are raised in North America and Canada is a very conservative country, I hope that you will not think of me too conservative and stuffy when I say that you will not see me putting in my abundant cellulite behind into the spandex capri pants that so many women are inclined to wear here and that you only usually see by women in Canada at that famous low price story that starts with a W. Nor will you be able to talk me into wearing the deep plunging necklines of the same fabric, that will only advertise to the masses that I am in fact hovering around the 50 year mark and gravity has taken a firm hold no matter how much support an underwire bra can give or how much yoga or exercise that I do and maybe a visit to the plastic surgeon might be a good suggestion. Which brings me to my feet. I love my feet they take me to so many new places and experiences, that I see no need to torture them by adding a sky rocketing 6 inches to my already 5′ 10″ frame. Can you now imagine this, me wearing this ensemble so that I might look “younger”. I think that you will joyfully follow behind me, at the ready, while I am walking, to yell timber if I get scared of the greater heights and wabble a little. So that all said, my shopping trips are probably not a successful as yours are, but I seem to like to buy for you more. I do love the colors and fabrics and homespun things that you find in the markets like the purses, and tapistries and tagua jewlery, and the leather goods, yum. More later

Love Mom

   [Top of Page]  
 Latest Headlines