Quito to Ibarra and Otavalo, Ecuador

30 - 31 December 2005

Breathtaking Laguna Mojanda at 3800 m


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We arrived at Quito airport an hour behind schedule and then experienced some unexpected ‘headwind’. Naturally, we had to pay the landing and navigation fees before we could take off for Ibarra but the security guards would not give Flemming permission to walk to the office where these taxes were calculated. After some discussion, they decided to send a lady round to the Operaciones office to obtain the necessary information about the plane from Flemming. She then had to walk back to her office to make out the bill, and then walk back to Operaciones to present us with it. It would have saved time if she’s simply phoned us for the information, but they apparently didn’t think of that. Flemming then had to take the bill to another office in the airport terminal to pay it and get a receipt. There he met a very friendly and helpful lady who appeared to be an important airport official and she smoothed our transit through the security barriers.
We finally took off for Ibarra two hours after arriving at Quito airport. By this time it was nearly 14H00 local time and the afternoon clouds had already sneaked in. We only just managed to find a hole between clouds and one of the mountain passes and landed in Ibarra 24 minutes later. After all the bureaucracy at Quito, it was a relief to be back at a small airport, manned single-handedly by the friendly guy in the tower. The tower called a local taxi who drove straight up to the aircraft to load up our bags, and then took us to Rancho Carolina.
Ibarra is refreshingly off the beaten tourist track and doesn’t have any ‘must see’ churches or other sites. We had chosen to go there to get out of the big city and to make a quick departure to Guayaquil. And it was only a 40-minute taxi ride to Otavalo with its famous Saturday market, frequented by locals to buy and sell pigs and by tourists to take photos of the pig sellers and purchase handicrafts at bargain prices. After making our purchases, we took a taxi all the way up a dirt road to the Laguna Mojanda, a mountain lake at 3800 metres. At that altitude it wasn’t only the view that was breathtaking.
Later, the taxi driver waited for us while we lunched at Casa Mojanda, a charming hacienda style inn on the way back down the road. The owners, a well travelled Ecuadorian called Diego and his American wife Betti, only built it a few years ago but it looks like a 300-year-old house. The vegetarian food was excellent, with fresh vegetables and herbs from their garden. After lunch we enjoyed a chat with them and their English radio journalist friend from Cuba who was staying with them on a working holiday.

Getting ready for a thin air take-off from Quito

Rain showers had developed due to the 2-hour delay on the ground in Quito

Friendly and efficient reception at Ibarra airport

Late lunch at Rancho Carolina

Parque Pedro Moncayo, Ibarra

The New Year doll in Rancho Carolina

Pig market in Otavalo

Young Otavaleņas

The pig market with Otavalo behind

Happy as a pig in a mud pool

Angela buying a pan pipe for brother Gordon

Laguna Mojanda 3800 m

Laguna Mojanda 3800 m

Betti and friends with Angela outside Casa Mojanda

JAlbum 6.2 Copyright: Angela & Flemming PEDERSEN