I hired a bike in Otavalo today, to explore the surrounding scenery and indigenous villages. I know two things from experience: if in doubt, hiring a bike is always the right thing to do; and it’ll always be too small for my 33″ inside leg. Both proved true again, as I cycled a few kilometres into the hills outside the town, enjoying the fine scenery, when it wasn’t being blocked by my knees.
These locals (pic) are waiting for the Sunday church service to start in the village of Iluman. Like virtually all locals, they’re in traditional costume, which consists of headdresses, embroidered blouses and shawls for the women, and hats and ponchos, or Barcelona football shirts, for the men.
Iluman must be quite a local service town, because it has a bike shop (pic). It also has all the other things you’d expect in a regional centre for a rural backwater, such as a church, bank, car workshop, and centre for treating alcohol and drug addiction.
Down the road in Peguche, another indigenous village, there was a fiesta, organised by the local authorities. I enjoyed some excellent caldo de patas (a tasty big fresh-herby soup with potatoes and bits of meat) and guanabana (custard apple drink), there was a mobile walk-in dentist and psychologist, and there were balloons and pot plants up for grabs free, which the kids snapped up happily (pic).
After sightseeing the modestly pleasant Peguche Falls, I cycled up and over the mountain on a very bumpy cobbled road to Laguna San Pablo (pic). On the way back I got a puncture and had to walk the last 4km to the bike rental place, and I wasn’t smiling quite as much then.