After visiting Las Lajas, we rode another taxi van from Ipialas to the border of Ecuador several miles away. The border crossing was a quick and pain-free formality. We were not asked even one question, just filled out a short form and hurried on our way. In Ecuador they use United States greenbacks and we had some saved up for our first few busses. Border crossings are chaotic and great spots to “lose” things so we try to get on a bus away as fast as possible. A collective taxi took us to the nearest town of Tulcán where every person that we passed was eating ice cream. We were able to quickly board a bus for Otavalo where we planned to spend the next few days. It was great to notice the new products in the stores and we were pumped for the cheaper prices, especially for bus rides that were nearly half the price of Colombian bus tickets. Along the Pan American Highway the mountains began to grow taller and the sharp peaks of volcanos were sometimes spotted, snow capped and dominating the skyline. I remember Carrie saying “the guidebook says these volcanos go off sometimes…”.
Arriving in Otavalo in the afternoon we were able to find a $12 room in the center of town at the Hostal Maria. It was clean and we had our own bathroom and best of all they forgot to charge us for some bottled water. The first thing we noticed walking around town was all the white people. In Colombia, which is still developing as a tourist nation, there are very few travelers, especially older ones. Here, whole groups of gringos roamed the streets with huge camera lenses and standard NorthFace pants with zip off legs. Seriously if you want to blend into the crowd don’t go out to a nice dinner dressed to go on safari. But I shouldn’t complain too much because it was nice to speak English a few times and we met some nice hiking buddies.