The cultural richness that beats in this destination is the result of being the cradle of the Quichua people of the Otavalos, known for its history, tradition and commercial activity. Since Inca and colonial times, this town has been coveted by the conquerors, who recognized in this area and its people high levels of organization and production.
In Otavalo, interculturality can be seen in every corner and is manifested through folklore. Its inhabitants wear with pride and elegance their traditional garments, most of which are made by themselves. Color, detail and symbolism are embroidered on ponchos, blouses, anacos, skirts and sashes.
The community is located in the province of Imbabura and is grouped in the urban parish of Otavalo and in the rural parishes of El Jordán, Eugenio Espejo (Calpaquí), San Juan de Ilumán, San Luis, San Rafael, Miguel Egas Cabezas (Peguche), González Suárez, San José de Quichinche and San Pablo of the Otavalo canton.
In the Cotacachi canton, there are Otavalos in the parishes of El Sagrario, Imantag, Quiroga and San Francisco; in the Ibarra canton, in the parishes of Ibarra, Sagrario and Ambuquí; and in the Antonio Ante canton, in the parishes of Andrade Marín, San Francisco de Natabuela and San Roque. Like the Kichwa nationality, the Otavalos are mostly organized in communities, communities whose primary cell is the monogamous family and as forms of family union, Catholic marriage, free union or contractual marriage proposed by the state.
These communities are organized by the right to land, by the defense of different forms of artisanal and commercial production, organizations that can be urban and rural, being considered first degree organizations; these are linked and united with others, creating second degree organizations such as FISI (Indigenous and Peasant Federation of Imbabura).
The economy of the Otavalos is, primarily, trade, national and international trade of handicrafts, music, tourism; in small proportion they are engaged in agriculture. They produce ceramics in Rinconada and basketry in Rumipamba.
The Otavalo have a long tradition of merchants; in the past, merchants were called “mindaláes”, they developed their activity under the cacical control and were subject to the payment of tributes in gold, blankets and white bone chaquira.
Another peculiarity is that they were weavers. Although all the indigenous peoples had developed textile knowledge, most of them were limited to producing for self-consumption; on the contrary, textile activity is the main source of income, from the market, of the Otavalo people.
The men wear a cotton shirt and wide pants to mid-leg, plus a heavy dark blue wool poncho, a wide-brimmed felt hat over their combed braid and cloth sandals with rope soles.
The women, wear a shawl knotted at the forehead over a white embroidered blouse. They wear two overlapping woolen skirts, wrapped at the waist and fastened with handmade belts. They also comb their hair in a single braid, which they cover with a mantilla.
The clothing is beautiful and striking, but what stands out most is the symbolism, for example: the men’s ponchos, made of wool or cloth, are made in the shape of Andean mountains; on the other hand, the fachalina, which is used by women, is placed on one side when the woman is single and in front when she is married. Currently, the world recognizes the beauty and identity of the garments, which are sold in the famous “Plaza de los Ponchos”, located in the center of Otavalo and recognized as the “largest indigenous market in Latin America”. There is a variety of textiles and leather garments, as well as handicrafts from different parts of the country, with affordable prices. This people have a worldview that shades and gives meaning to all areas of life, one of whose expressions is the harmonious relationship between the universe, earth and man (Pachamama, allpamama, runa) and the binary division of oppositions.
As part of this Andean cosmovision, the Otavalo people maintain a mystical relationship with hills, mountains and lakes. Taita Imbabura and Mama Cotacachi represent their beliefs. In the same way, lakes like Cuicocha or waterfalls like Peguche harbor waters that are used for purifying baths.
The months of October and September coincide with the corn harvest, so the Yamor is prepared, which is a fermented chicha with low alcoholic power obtained from the ferment of the seven grains of corn; this drink is accompanied by a succulent dish of fritada with mote, tortillas and empanadas.
On November 2, it is common to serve a plate of champús (corn flour colada with mote and pineapple), accompanied by bread guaguas. Also at this time it is customary to prepare the so-called “mazamorra” with churos.
In Otavalo there has always been a family kitchen with good taste and patient particularities, it is enough to mention the humitas (choclotandas), quimbolitos, and empanadas de morocho. Preserving customs inherited from traditional Andean foods rich in grains, morocho, quinoa, chuchuca, corn, peas, etc..
The characteristics and attractions found in this place have been the motivation to undertake a trip to this city and to be able to know closely its tourist-cultural attractions that awaken the interest of Ecuadorians and foreign tourists that the city receives every year.