Today was market day!!!!!!!!!! First we all went to the animal market to check out the animals. It was kind of depressing because at first it was cool looking at all the different animals there but then life kinda hit us when we saw people holding roosters by the neck and trying to sell them to everyone. There was a lot of poo poo on the ground and we had to dodge around all of it L. The chicks and bunnies were pretty cute but the cows weren’t because their butts were stained with their feces. On the way to the good market, poor Samantha got a bloody nose and it took them 15 minutes to get it to stop. We all walked until we got to Willy’s, the local American fast food place in Otavalo, split up into groups of 3-4 and went off on our own. Everyone was told to barter ahead of time so we all tried our best, and we all got pretty good deals. Jessica M got a blanket from 25 down to 15 and Lucas got a purse from 32 to 20. The rest of the items we were almost always able to barter for 2 dollars less than the original price. The soccer boys felt inclined to buy knives for some reason and everyone else focused on getting bags, scarves, and blankets. There were also some cool items like colorfully painted wooden dome art (bowls, spoons) as well as wind instruments that they use here in Ecuador. After everyone shopped for three hours, we all met back at Willy’s where we listened to middle school throwbacks for 30 minutes waiting for everyone to come back. The drive from the market to our next destination was very long; almost 2 hours. The first place that we went to was the organic garden owned by Tio Fabian, where they don’t use any pesticides or chemicals to grow their crops. Almost everyone put on sunscreen and bug spray when we got there because we were deathly afraid of getting any mosquito bites. There were a bunch of delicious things growing like mangos, avocados, and tuna (from cactus). Afterwards, we drove a short distance to an Afro-Ecuadorian community located in a dry area between mountains, and what we saw wasn’t like what we saw in Otavalo. The buildings were in much poorer conditions and you could definitely tell that the town was much more impoverished than anything we had seen before. We all got into their community center and gathered around in a circle. The Afro-Ecuadorians played music for us and we played games that they made up to quiz us and get us more comfortable with each other. Phillip and Lucas (unfortunately) had to participate in a very awkward game where we had to try to trick Lucas into taking Phillip’s pants off, which thank god, didn’t result in Phillip’s pants being taken off. After the games, we all stood up and danced with this super cool woman, Olga for an hour and it was very tiring. We ate a pretty good dinner with some rice drink and headed off. Before we left, there was this little kid named Kenny who hopped on the bus and imitated us speaking English by saying “walawalawala” and it was pretty funny. When we got back after the long day, Earl (the dog) was super happy to see us and started running in circles at high speed jumping up and down. We went to bed shortly after because we were pretty exhausted. Definitely a highlight of the trip. We learned a lot from the Afro-Ecuadorian people; where their ancestors came from, and how they were excluded from society in Ecuador. Racism here in Ecuador against black people is arguably stronger than it is in the States, because even in recent days, black people would sometimes not be allowed to stay into high class hotels or enter fancy restaurants. It was a crucial experience that taught us about racism in Ecuador and about Ecuador’s minority whose voice is rarely heard outside of their towns.
-Thomas Christensen and Jessica Morales