I love to research places to travel to. South America has always been high on my list of places to visit - it seems so near, yet so exotic. Several countries were of interest - central American ones like Belize and southern ones like Argentina and Uruguay, but Ecuador won out. Why?
Well, first of all, I've met a wonderful couple, Gary and Merri Scott, who have spent over 12 years visiting, living in and investing in Ecuador. Their newsletters (www.garyascott.com) have made some of our most interesting reading over the past 3 years. They show a genuine love of the country and the people.
With my past involvement in arts and crafts, just reading about the craft centers of Ecuador was not enough. Placenames like Otavalo, Peguche, San Antonio de Ibarra, Cuenca and Chordeleg called to me. I found websites that told about the history of these places, and why each town had its own craft.
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For example in the North part of the country the craftsmen create beautiful products such as sweaters, coats, gloves, caps, shawls and tapestries with multi-coloured wools and cottons. Otavalo is one of the most important places in this artisan field and its famous crafts market is a cornucopia of color and delights. Here you can find all textiles, jewelry made of tagua and silver, leather, and paintings.
Just north of Otavalo, you'll find the lovely village of Cotacachi - known as the leatherworkers center. This is the place to buy beautiful leather coats, jackets, hats, belts and luggage at amazing low prices. Or how about a custom saddle, at a tenth of what it would cost in North America?
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