International Writers Magazine:
rainbow-tiled sidewalks were blurry. Fighting off a fierce caffeine
headache that made my previous 2 hours on the bus from Quito agonizing,
I struggled to keep up with Andrew as we proceeded south on Bolívar.
In addition, I was famished. A lack of Joe and breakfast on this
sunny Saturday morning had severely dampened my spirits. And given
that this was our first time in the Imbabura province (we had both
ventured separately from the distant south), my fellow gringo and
I had no idea where to go in order to bring me back to life. In
spite of only being off the bus for 10 minutes, I already hated
stopped on a downtown street corner.
"Want to get some breakfast?" my short, brown-haired friend
asked while staring at a café kitty-cornered from us.
All I could do was nod excitedly as we headed for the glass doors.
The color and optimism were back in my face several minutes later. Savoring
every sip of my black coffee and inhaling my eggs and bacon, I enthusiastically
bounced ideas for the day off my former TESOL classmate, who devoured
his loaded chicken sandwich on the other end of our small wooden table.
Studying my guidebook, the two of us eventually decided to walk a big
loop, ambling down Bolívar and then double back north on Sucre,
which were the two main arteries running through the heart of the municipality.
Once outside, my pal from Loja (a small, tranquil city near Ecuadors
southern tip) and I continued south on Bolívar to complete a
trifecta of churches. First, the two of us stopped by González
Suárez Plaza, where we admired the twin towers of the squares
smoky church. Next, we meandered across the communitys central
park-Parque Bolívar. Not only did Andrew and I ogle the thriving
areas verdant shrubbery, palm trees, and fountains, but we were
also impressed by the plazas enormous salmon chapel. Lastly, the
two of us paused for a moment below the yellow and baby-blue façade
of the Iglesia San Francisco. Even though this holy house was much smaller
than its northern counterparts, its cleanliness and upkeep were remarkable.
The church looked brand new, like it was built the night before.
After crossing off chapels on our list, Andrew and I sauntered one block
east until we reached Sucre. The two of us then backtracked north with
markets on our minds.
Andrew and I were pleased by the colorful buildings and decorated lampposts
that lined Sucre. We were also in awe of the endless blue and yellow
tarps that occupied the bustling byway, which covered the upcoming kiosks
as far as the eye could see. And just as we re-passed Otavalos
central plaza, Andrew and I were swallowed by a sea of shoppers.
My fellow English teacher and I patiently pressed on, snaking our way
through the dense crowd of gringos and Ecuadorians, as well as occasionally
stopping by a booth so Andrew could check out the crafts. And as we
continued to bob, weave, and bargain, I couldnt help but wonder
where all the hype about Otavalo came from. I had heard countless individuals
rave about this pueblos authentic, one-of-kind merchandise. But
as I analyzed the items for sale, I concluded that I could have bought
about eighty percent of these so-called unique crafts in Cuenca; the
city I had been calling home for the past 10 months. The merchandise
may have been a tad cheaper here, but it certainly didnt warrant
traveling across the country to save some pocket change. Like most of
the places that Id heard others rattle on about, this one was
Regardless of my disappointment, Andrew and I carried on and eventually
entered Otavalos famous Plaza de Ponchos; an enormous concrete
area dominated by stands covered with giant blue umbrellas. Here, the
two of us tried our best not to get annoyed as we constantly moseyed
our way around the massive multitude of tourists and nationals. Despite
our fading patience with the unending swarms of people, Andrew managed
to get some shopping done nonetheless. Satisfied with his arts and crafts
purchases, Mr. Murphy and I then quickly decided to break away from
Always suckers for views, Andrew and I agreed there had to be a lookout
point and that we should find it. Consequently, the two of us once again
marched south on Bolívar until we reached Calderón. Looking
east, Andrew and I noticed a wide cement staircase running up the green
hill on the edge of town and, therefore, picked up our pace.
While we crept closer towards the towns outskirts, the midday
sun crept further behind the ever-increasing clouds. Nevertheless, despite
the dimming skies, the two of us discovered a couple of more sites.
For instance, we stumbled upon Otavalos food market, which sat
on a corner lot filled with fruit stands sheltered by evergreen tin
roofs. In fact, the fruit looked so shiny that it appeared plastic,
similar to the foods used to decorate tables. Moreover, Andrew and I
came across the old train station, which rested on the communitys
eastern border and had obviously been out of commission for many years.
And after swiftly crossing the decrepit tracks, the two of us finally
arrived at the concrete stairs, ascending them immediately.
Reaching the top of the rather short staircase, Andrew and I saw more
rusty rails that curved around the dusty hilltop we were standing on.
In addition, both of us wandered towards the base of a sky-scraping
cement cross, which stabbed deep into the heavens and was, unfortunately,
riddled with graffiti.
Andrew and I, in truth, wandered about the area for a good while. However,
we still couldnt find any indication of an overlook for the city.
To that end, my fellow traveler and I opted to return to the stairs
But just as we were
about to descend the hill, the two of us noticed a tiny metal sign that
said, "Balcón de Otavalo." Andrew and I had been standing
on the towns lookout point without even realizing it. I was surprised.
Although it didnt seem like my friend and I were very high, there
were no more stairs above us; this was it. That said, I took a few photos
overlooking Otavalo and followed Andrew back down the stairs. It was
time to catch a bus.
As we headed north on Bolívar, I was reminded of the numerous
occasions that Andrew and I had done this; the final walk out of town.
However, unlike our past exits from various communities scattered around
the country, this departure had a different feeling to it because my
friend was about to jet. Given that Andrew was just a handful of days
from boarding his plane for the States, this was, in fact, the last
march of our last marches in Ecuador. Making our way north, I pondered
this realization for the next few blocks.
Without any warning, an elderly woman then yelled, snapping me out of
my daze. She was leaning out from the passenger window of a truck stopped
at the intersection that Andrew and I were crossing.
"Here you go, young man. Take these, theyre free," said
the gray-haired Ecuadorian as she handed me two magazines.
Returning to Andrew, who was waiting for me on the sidewalk, I held
the publications out in front of me to examine my parting gifts while
we approached the northern city limits.
"I dont think that ones meant for you," my pal
said, pointing to the periodical titled, Being Young.
Always reminded of the fact that I was in kindergarten when my sidekick
was born, I laughed.
I then looked over to see Andrew sporting a wide grin. A smile that
not only represented the pride in his latest wisecrack, but also the
contentedness he felt from a fulfilling 11 months in Ecuador.
And even though I was glad that Andrew was happy to be heading home,
part of me wasnt. It was a bit tough knowing hed soon be
© Tyrel Nelson
at the Bullring
outnumbered, wounded bulls entered the rowdy arena to be stabbed to
death by costumed men.
Hike in Girón
to the Tica, there was no reason to visit Girón. It was ugly,
boring, and a waste of time. And on every occurrence that I mentioned
I might visit the pueblo, my lanky, graying friend looked at me like
I had completely lost my mind.
on Santa Cruz
was good. I was recently reunited with my girlfriend, Amanda, who I
hadnt seen in over 5 months, and we were in a place that many
people only get to visit in their dreams.
Breathing in dust and pouring out sweat, I trudged along the sultry
gravel road beneath my feet. I pressed on, walking a tightrope on the
Back from Guayaquil
I vividly remembered walking to the baggage claim in Quito a year
earlier, scared to death and wondering how I was ever going to get my
feet under me, let alone teach English.
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.