Only 25 minutes north of Otavalo, Cotacachi offers leather (cuero) of the highest quality (calidad), as the sign indicates. If cuero products rate at the top of your shopping list as they do in mine, this place belongs on your must-visit list.
Jackets, wallets, belts, purses - even saddles purchased here and shipped elsewhere - even with the high shipping prices - remain a bargain. Recipients of my gifts from here go wild with profuse thanks.
Last visit, a walk to the park transported us to a gala display of this famous town's best and trendiest goods under tents together with entertainment. Prices go up under tents to pay for rental of space, tents, etc., so downtown remains my favorite with its one long "leather avenue".
However, anywhere entertainment gathers the crowd - together with goods to sell - exposes new products and the classic goodies, so you know what to look for.
Mercados in Quito carry some leather from here, but the quality can vary, so, how much actually comes from here remains a mystery. Bottom line: you can't beat Cotacachi leather in any mercado.
As we trekked on back to browse through the product avenue once more, we passed these lemon trees growing alongside the bridge.
Do you think this may be a warning not to buy a "lemon" of anything?
Of course, wherever you go, hunger follows, so we stopped to eat at Majestic Restaurant. Don't let the outside fool you. Once you step inside the dining area, elegance takes over. The menu and its prices confirm the bargain... and the food - delicioso!
How to get there... You can take a great tour with Angel, and start at the Otavalo Mercado, then on to Cotacachi all on the same day. He waits to bring you back and charges by the carload.
You can go by shared taxi which can get really crammed. You pay about $10 per person when full. I don't recommend this.
There's a bus station called Ofelia in the north of Quito where you can go for about $4 a person to Otavalo or Cotacachi and on to Ibarra. You board at Ejido Park to go to the bus station.
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