We weren’t quite ready to leave Ecuador so we decided to spend a night in the lakeside town of Ibarra, 30 minutes or so north of Otavalo before making our border crossing the following day.
It was Sunday which unfortunately meant that the Museo del Banco Central, which has been touted as one of Ecuador’s best, was closed. What to do on a Sunday in Ibarra? Well we did what the locals do.
We had a lovely menu lunch at a place that had lots of well dressed Ibarrans. For $4 each we enjoyed soup, a vegetable and salad buffett (our bodies were thanking us after weeks of fried chicken!) a main of pork, chicken, fish or beef with lentils and rice, a dessert and juice.
Next we got a taxi up to the mirador where the San Miguel Archangel slaying a dragon looks down over the town. After six months in South America we have learnt that your town is not legit unless it has a big statue of Jesus, Mary, an Angel or a cross on a hill somewhere.
The view was great but it was time for a beer. We noticed a mamil (middle aged man in Lycra) sitting outside a shop with his bike drinking a beer. Being Sunday we were lucky that this little shop was obliging as usually it is prohibited to sell beer in Ecuador on the Sabbath unless it is in a restaurant and you are eating.
After our beer we got a bus down to the lake and saw a wonderfully colourful train. It was just a car towing trailer seats but nonetheless we decided to pay the $1 each and we were off with all the mums and dads and children. It was then we discovered this was no ordinary train/car pulling trailers ride. The driver would weave in and out making the train rock side to side – a roller coaster of sorts – much screaming and laughter ensured.
We ended up around the side of the lake where there was a fantastic playground for children as well as assorted animal paddle boats for hire. This place was packed for a Sunday afternoon out with the family. We strolled along the lakeside licking our ice cream cones.
That night we had our first ‘Chifa’ for dinner – Chinese food. Little did we know the servings were HUGE and we had enough leftovers for breakfast the following day.
That evening, the owner of the hotel must have felt sorry for us when we asked him if there was anywhere near by we could get a beer, as he went and got some for us. We were able to chill in the room and watch cable with our cold beer, enjoying the last night of wonderful Ecuadorian hospitality.