There was a man under a tent in the middle of the market drawing a crowd. He was promoting a health product. I heard him tell his ever expanding audience not to eat pork daily, to limit it to twice or three times a week. He had models of the human body with detachable organs and with his microphone in one hand and a body part in the other, explained how his product would help each organ. More and more people came to listen to his spiel. Surprisingly, there were fruit and vegetable stands next to the cuy and rabbits, the puppies in the next row, and chicken, ducks and geese nearby. The larger pigs and cows occupied the area furthest from the road. Maya was distressed about the conditions of the animals, so we did not stay long, but followed the locals out across the Pana to an endless row of tents selling pots and pans and shoes and clothes and household goods.
We were ready to shop! I love all the colours and I have learned to bargain. The trick is to be able to decide how much you want to pay and stick to your plan, and be ready to walk away, knowing that you will find what you want anyway (there are tents after tents selling the same goods), and nothing is absolutely essential. This method works for me and I get good prices (at least I hope so) and never feel that I have paid too much. This approach does not work for silver or jewellery, for which prices appear to be fixed. We stayed together and bargained jointly and did not overdo it.
Maya provided us with a violin concert while we recharged, and after a while, we gathered ourselves together and wandered into Peguche, a short ten minute walk away. We visited a couple of textile workshops, where we admired the rugs and other wares. The quality of the work in these ateliers were clearly superior to those that are found in the market. A wonderful woman showed us how she works with the wooden Spanish loom, with three pedals or eight, and the backstrap loom, which is of Incan origin and takes far more time and effort. She showed us how to make an alpaca shawl, which takes four days and is sold for $35, in contrast to the twelve days it takes to use the backstrap loom to make the poncho that Maya admired. All of the dyes are natural, using plants and seeds for green and yellow, and the larva of an insect that parasitizes a cactus to make purple, orange if lemon is added and deeper purple if bicarbonate of soda is added.
We visited a music museum where our host demonstrated the construction of a pan pipe out of bamboo, and showed us the several instruments used in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. He and his family played a short concert of Andean music. We walked back to our home on the hill, passing clusters of inhabitants strolling out on a Saturday night, visiting neighbours and going to parties, playing Andean or Ecuadorian pop music. We felt very much a part of the town.
Saturday Night Family Outing
La Casa Sol was busy with a crowd of Otavaleños visiting for dinner. The food was excellent and plentiful, our room was warm and inviting, so with a fire crackling in the fire place and loud music audible from the town below, we were all in bed and drifting off to sleep early.