City Life in Cotacachi

City Life in Cotacachi

I’m staying at the hostal Moynaylla, on the corner of the main street, which is about 10 blocks long. The main street has a small plaza    with church and craft market at one end another outdoor market at the other.  city life in Cotacachi 007

My hostal, which is really a hotel with about 12 rooms is very Spanish inside, with  dark wood stairs and balconies, dark wood chairs against white plaster walls.  Built  around a center enclosed courtyard, it is 3 stories high with narrow corridors and  very old looking reception area complete with yellowed ledgers.  They have made an  effort to decorate the hallways with art and old wooden tools.  The outside is hideous,  very modern rounded front where the big windows are dirty and cracked, the walls  need paint and a chicken roasting business with big commercial signs reigns over the  ground floor.  Only a narrow door leads back into the living space.

It must be a family business.  A boy named Andy, about 17 checked me in.  He stays  on the computer in the second floor living space unless someone calls for him.  A girl of about 12 in Catholic school uniform comes and goes.  An indigenous woman in the pretty embroidered blouse and long brown braid wrapped in woven ribbon sweeps up and filled my thermos with hot water heated on her stove.  Maybe she is the mother?

Catacuchi 016

I have caught a cold and so am staying in and resting today.  The teenager at my last place had strep throat, so I’m taking every kind of preventative medicine I have and hoping I’ve just caught a cold.

It’s not very quiet here, in a 19th century way.  The street is very narrow and cobbled.  Each truck or car that has business with the public, like the propane delivery truck, the fresh fruit vendor, the trash truck, all have music they play so you can know they’re here to do business.  People run out and place little bags of trash on the street or bargain for fruit.  The gringo laundry man whistles so you’ll know to take your laundry down to him.  The policia ride their motorcycles by.  Radios play advertisements and music from nearby shops.

The policia are very nice, generally in their 20s, polite as can be and do not have that false power front the police in the US do.  They stand about on corners and I’m not sure what they do, as one can pretty much drive any way one wants, park the wrong way on one way streets, back down the one way street, hold up traffic by turning around in the middle of the block in order to back into a driveway, pull up onto the sidewalks.  I think their presence may be largely preventative, and they convey a feeling very quiet and nonthreatening.

city life in Cotacachi 003 Women are sweeping out their shops with babies tied to their backs.  For some reason the women  dress in indigenous costume of dark skirt, braid and embroidered blouse and blanket, but the men  are dressed in jeans and sweatshirts.  The women are very beautiful looking and remind me of my  young mother in Mexico, in 1958 or so, with her dark hair and skin, long skirts and dark chignon.

Catholic schoolchildren are coming and going, little boys in navy blue wool pants and white  collared shirt, with the black felt hat everyone wears.  Women  are coming and going with what  they bought at the markets in string bags: roses always, oranges, tree tomatoes.  Old women are  sitting at stands on the sidewalk selling the large beans that look like limas only twice as large,  rice, corn kernels, or roasted meat, or woven bracelets.  Retired expats go by in couples.

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