I woke up this morning, to find Otavalo completely transformed. Outside my hostel was a market. Down the street was more market. In fact, the entire town had been converted into one giant, sprawling, souvenir-riddled market! So the rumours were true: it is indeed a big deal, here in Otavalo on Saturday. And since this was my last full day in Ecuador, and in the Central Andes as a whole, it was time to embark on a serious splurge of souvenir and present shopping. I now have a very overstuffed bag, and a rather lean pocket.
Marcelo is the friendly owner of Jack Rock Café, one of the great places to enjoy the nightlife in "bar street" of Baños. Considering that his bar is home to pumping music and wild dancing, he's a very quiet and dignified man. He also loves chess: Patrick gave him a few games last night; and tonight, I decided to challenge the old fella as well. With a few hints from Patrick (who's better than me), I managed to score a victory. If you're up for a game yourself, just head into the bar mid-week, and ask for Marcelo.
I've been very slack in my time so far in Cusco, because after 4 weeks here, I still haven't visited the Valle Sagrado ("Sacred Valley") at all. Lying about an hour north of Cusco (by public bus), and consisting of three principal towns — Pisac, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo — it's one of the main tourist attractions in the area. This morning, I was planning to visit Pisac (and to continue on to Urubamba) on my own; but at the last minute, I ended up going with Jesus. We didn't quite make it up to the Inca Citadel, but we did have a colourful and relaxed morning at the markets.