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While in Otavalo, Zulay took us to a couple places of interest. One was a traditional home built 50 years ago. The elderly couple who lived in the home wove mats and baskets and fans for fires. It was such a humble dwelling and so very interesting. One of my favorite parts was listening to Zulay speak to the couple in Quechua, the indigenous language. We bought a couple of small baskets for $3 each. This was a fantastic homeschooling activity. 

I really enjoyed Otavalo and I would love to spend more time there. It's beautiful, it's small and it's full of indigenous people in their traditional clothing. The Otavalans have done the best job of all the people in Ecuador at preserving their traditions. Another interesting thing about Otavalo is that it's believed that indigenous Otavalans are Lamanites as in Lamanites from the Book of Mormon. Otavalans who are members of my church are considered some of the most faithful members and were among the first to visit the temple in Guayaquil when it was newly built. 

We stayed in a great Air BnB in Otavalo. It was called Casa de Zulay. Zulay was an awesome hostess, so friendly! 

On our way from Cotopaxi to Otavalo, we stopped at Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world), which I thought would be just a monument but was actually quite the thing with restaurants, shopping, small museums, etc. Because I wasn't expecting all that, I felt a little overwhelmed (and tired from the very sleepless night with Maeve, traveling with babies!). Generally, a lot of the things felt like repeats for us because we've been in Ecuador for 3 months. We've visited a chocolate factory, and Guayasamin's Capilla de Hombres, etc. I think that this would be a better stop for someone who is only in the country for a short period of time. Overall, I really liked the celebration of all the different cultures that exist within Ecuador in the different regions. Fun fact, did you know that the equator is 5km wide to account for variance? It's really fun to have visited the equator. Traveling to Otavalo was the first time we've been north of the equator in almost 3 months. 

Because we were unable to do any hiking on our first go at Cotopaxi, I knew I had to return the next day. Fortunately for us, Maeve was up shortly after 6am (after a very sleepless night, sorry fellow hotel guests!) and we were at Cotopaxi National Park not long after it opened. It was a very misty, cloudy morning and the entire time there was cloud coverage over Cotopaxi, so I’m really grateful we were there the day before. We hiked around La Laguna, which was mostly flat and took just over an hour. 

I firmly believe that God took extra care when he created Ecuador. It is so beautiful! I’m so grateful we had the chance to come to this incredibly National Park. I’m really, really glad we made this stop. 

Our next stop was Cotopaxi National Park. We made two visits to the park on two days. On our first day, we checked in and it was recommended to us to rent a 4x4 vehicle if we wanted to hike to the Refugio. We decided to see how far our car could get us. The drive into the park was breathtaking and as we drove up Cotopaxi, the cloud coverage slowly cleared, ultimately revealing the peak of the Volcano! It was mesmerizing and I had Conor pull over so many times to take photos! I loved every minute! In the end, perhaps we should’ve enlisted the 4x4, because at some point our gutless Chevrolet Spark could do no more and we had to roll down the mountain and turn ourselves around. Everything was so breathtakingly beautiful, that there was no room for complaints whatsoever. Only gratitude for where we were. We decided to go back down and hike the Lagoon, which we would’ve done if someone hadn’t locked the keys in the car! Fortunately opening a car manually (aka breaking in) is a common skill set and everything turned out okay, although it did chew up a couple of hours. We’re making memories! 

My favorite picture I took is the one of the llama and Cotopaxi in the background. Is this for real??? Yes, it is. 

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