Salinerito Pizzeria in Otavalo, Ecuador

We discovered Salinerito Pizzeria on our first visit toOtavalo, and when we crossed through the town again recently we just had to go back!  The place is amazing!  It’s a full Italian restaurant plus an awesome little grocery store too!

Service can be a bit slow, but it’s totally worth it for the amazing pizzas!  The “personal” pizzas are huge and range in price from $2-4.  Very reasonable!  They also have huge sub sandwiches, salads, breakfast, and desserts.

The pizzas have a deliciously thick crust, a smothering of mozzerella, and a sprinkling of oregano!  Zach got a mushroom, tomato, and onion pie, while I opted for the Chilé: tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and super-spicy orange chilés!  So good!

Location: Just off the intersection of Salinas and Simon Bolivar, Otavalo, Ecuador.


1/3 Highlights

As of January 27, we’ve been in South America for three months!  That’s about 1/3 of the total time we’ll be down here (assuming money lasts) so it’s quite a milestone.  Sometimes I feel like we’ve been on the road forever and other times it feels like it was just yesterday we landed in Medellin.

To celebrate our 1/3-iversary, let’s list some fun stats!

Days in South America:  95

Dollars Spent (not including flight): $3005

Countries Visited: 3

Books Read: 8 (Carrie), 7 (Zach)

Number of Laundromat Visits (not including hand-washing): 3

Bacterial Infections: 1 each

Things We’ve Lost
iPhone (Carrie)…The Infamous Bird Poop Incident
Water bottle (Zach)…just left it at a Couchsurfer’s house
Glasses (Carrie)…stupid lake
Sunglasses (Zach)…stupid ocean
2 rings (Carrie)…two separate places
1 shirt (Carrie)…I think this girl on our first WWOOF farm thought it was hers because she always wore orange!
Dr. Bronners soap (Zach)…”It’ll turn up!” he says
Umbrella…who knows???

And now, since it is Awards Season, we hereby present to you….

The 1/3-iversary Superlatives…a.k.a. the Best Of “So Far”

Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), llapingachos (Carrie)

Favorite Beverage: Colombian coffee

Most Missed Food: Graeter’s ice cream and peanut butter (Carrie), Mexican food and cheddar cheese (Zach)

Most Missed Event: holidays at home

Most Missed Activities:  watching Oscar films (Carrie), cooking/baking, snowboarding

Most Annoying Phenomenon: loud music and movies on buses

Favorite Activity: The Inca Trail

Nicest People: Colombians

Favorite City: Cuzco

Most Times We Said “What a Crazy Place!”: Huacachina

Best Beach: Canoa

Best Shopping: Otavalo

Best Person We’ve Met: Oso the dog

Scariest/Coolest Experience: the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano

Most Authentic Cultural Experience/Cutest Kids and Puppies: WWOOFing at Finca Campo Bello

Biggest Party/Least Authentic Cultural Experience: Loki Hostel

Biggest Personal Changes: dreadlocks and eating meat (Carrie), actually speaking a second language (Zach)

Favorite Country Overall: Ecuador

Goals for the Next 2/3rds of the Journey

1. Save money and get ahead on our budget in Bolivia!

2. Find a WWOOF experience where we actually get to farm!

3. Do more filming!

4. Improve our Spanish!

I know, I know, we really need to stop losing things and wash our clothes more!  Do you like this silly little superlative round-up?  Should we do one again after 2/3rds?

Quito Chaos

Quito, the capitol of Ecuador, didn’t exactly get on our good side right away.  What happened was a typical episode of traveling-into-an-unfamiliar-huge-city hassles.  We got off the bus from Otavalo and grabbed our backpacks.  We wandered over to look at a wall of maps in the rapidly-emptying bus lot.  While we found maps detailing the routes of all, say, six different bus systems in Quito, somehow none of these maps seemed to indicate WHERE WE ACTUALLY WERE AT THE MOMENT.  We knew we were somewhere in the northern part of the city since we hadn’t driven through much of Quito before stopping, but we were clueless as far as how to get to the Old Town.  (Thanks, but no thanks to Lonely Planet also, for having next to no details on this.)  Eventually we asked someone and he waved vaguely over at a waiting area for a couple local buses.  We headed over there, determined to figure it out and not take a taxi since we were still around 20km from the city center and it would have been expensive.  At least we have enough sense to always ask several different people for directions, and luckily caught ourselves right before we got on the wrong bus!  We lugged our packs into the aisle, getting in everyone’s way, and settled in for a ride to the centro.  But no, this bus was not actually going to the city center, only to the Trole station, where we had to get on one of Quito’s new dedicated-lane cable-car type buses.  The Trole station had about six different options and we had to ask someone again.  Once on the correct Trole, I grabbed a seat and Zach settled in a standing spot in the corner.  This turned out to be a grave error, as the Trole stopped practically every block and every time more and more people crammed into the bus until it was packed tighter than a mosh pit at a rock concert.  Again, I had to ask someone to find out where to get off, as we had no idea.  The actual prospects of getting off though, seemed slim.  I was crammed into a seat I wished I hadn’t taken, with about 20 people glued together in the aisle between me and the door.  Zach was slightly closer, but also faced a hard elbow-throwing battle to get out.  There was no way I could even stand up and start making my way to the exit in advance.  My plan was basically just to push as hard as I could with my huge backpack, scream “¡Perdón!  ¡Pérdon por favor!” over and over again, and hope I made it.  And it worked!  But barely!  In the mad crush for the exit door at our stop Zach recalls making it, then looking back to see me still far away and fighting as the doors started closing.  Honestly, I don’t know how I got out of there alive and with all my stuff, but after I did I was cursing Quito and swearing to never ride the Trole again.  Thinking the hard part was over as we had made it to the right neighborhood, we tried to hail several taxis to get to our intended hostel.  Surprise, surprise, not a single driver recognized the address.  We wandered up and down the narrow streets receiving vague directions from shopkeepers like “Walk uphill two blocks and then ask someone up there.”  Finally, finally, after asking about 5 different people and wandering on foot for half an hour, we stumbled upon the correct street ourselves.  Who needs you, taxis?  Huh?

The lessons in all of this?  I’m not sure.  Probably number one would be:  Take a taxi if you can afford it!  This whole crazy mess kind of left us wondering if it would have been worth it.  Also, we always try to arrive at our destinations before dark, as it’s much less stressful and safer to find your way around public transportation in the busier daylight hours.  We definitely, definitely would have taken a taxi if it had been dark outside.

Up next…find out if Quito can reverse our initially bad impression!

Mojanda Mountains of Otavalo, Ecuador

Otavalo Mojanda - Mountains of Ecuador
Mojanda Mountains of Otavalo, Ecuador

From my journal…At 2:30 we met up with some gringos we met the night before at the language exchange.  Included was a woman from Peace Corps who had a friend with a truck.  So this Swedish guy and I rode in the truck bed and everyone else in the cab.  I always like riding in the back on nice days, the wind flies through your hair and it makes you feel more adventurous.  We rode for 30 min up a cobblestone road, riding up and up into the clouds then out the top.  Clear and beautiful, huge volcanic peaks all around us, we parked next to a cold, crystal clear lake.  Most beautiful landscape so far this trip, breathtaking.  Took so many amazing pictures!  We walked and talked and had a blast just because of the beauty of the place.  But as soon as the sun started to fade, all the heat was drained from the land and it got COLD!  You would never expect it to be so cold only miles from the equator.  So we packed it up and drove back down through the clouds, on the road that was so old and going no place but to this perfect lake that is here only for us to enjoy.  We left our friends after exchanging email addresses, most of us traveling south and sure to meet again.  We were so hungry so we searched for this pizza place we had heard of.  Finally found it and it was delicious with real cheese and only $2.50 for a personal pizza that was about 12 inches and SPICY!

Otavalo Mojanda - Mountains of Ecuador
This is what happens when you build your home too close to the lake…
Otavalo Mojanda - Mountains of Ecuador
Super filmmaker!
Otavalo Mojanda - Mountains of Ecuador
Above the clouds

If you enjoyed this post about  the Mojanda Mountains of Otavalo then check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

Otavalo Market – South America’s Greatest Mercado

Otavalo, Ecuador, was my absolute FAVORITE place on our trip so far.  It was just indescribably cool.  The main attraction is the Otavalo Market. It is a massive Saturday crafts market – supposedly the biggest in South America!  Tons of traditionally-attired Quechua locals take over the streets of the whole town center, selling beautiful artwork, handicrafts, livestock, clothing, anything you can imagine!  We also LOVED the food market, and all the great but cheap restaurants around town.  In general, Otavalo struck me as a excellent place to chill and enjoy a small-town atmosphere, while simultaneously soaking up indigenous Ecuadorian culture in a beautiful environment!  I wish we could have stayed longer.  Really though, the pictures have to do the talking!

Otavalo Market
Indigenous produce sellers in the food market.
Otavalo Market
Everything is so COLORFUL in Otavalo!
Otavalo Market
These fried mashed potato cakes are the best ever!!! Served with mystery meat, salad, and salsa! $1 per plate.
Otavalo Market
The indigenous people of Otavalo are famous for their awesome felt hats. I kind of wanted this one, but didn’t want to pack it for 8 more months!
Otavalo Market
The Saturday market is torture for a jewelry-lover on a budget like me!
Otavalo Market
Need a snack while shopping? How about some snails??
Otavalo Market
Beautiful fabrics.
Otavalo Market
This woman made Zach’s awesome poncho, our first souvenir of the whole trip!

Enjoy this post about Otavalo Market?  Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel.