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Ecuador's Saquisili Market

One of the highlights of the summer was a trip to Ecuador's Saquisili Market, one of the most economically important and authentic markets in Ecuador.  This market certainly isn't oriented to tourists; the atmosphere here is strictly business, and almost everything for sale serves some utilitarian purpose, from cratefuls of chickens to homemade shotguns, shoes, and leeks.  It was a fantastic glimpse into life in rural Ecuador. 

Luckily, very few tourists know about this market.  In fact, I only found out about it by stumbling upon the following description in one of my tour books.  (The market was pretty much ignored in the other guide books!)

"Racks of tools, mountains of brightly colored yarn, and other vendors line the city streets.   The entire city, in effect, becomes one big market. Although most of the major buying and selling takes place in one of eight plazas, every street seems to have its own particular offering--some of which earn a double take.  On one, find car radios dangling wires; head down a block and over for the fried pig heads.  Chickens and roosters appear on one street, rabbits and guinea pigs on another.

The real treat, though, waits about a kilometer out of town.  Follow the pig squeals down a dusty lane to the animal market, where creatures of every description are bought, sold and bartered.  This market is also divided into sections.  Placid, dread-locked llamas cluster with could-fleeced alpacas near the entrance, while cows, sheep and horses congregate toward the back.  Some women resemble strange parodies of New York City dog walkers, with dozens of piglets on strings milling around their ankles.  Occasionally someone screams, but no one turns to look--it's just a huge hog being loaded into the back of a truck by a group of sweating, swearing farmers.  Aside from the few tourists with cameras, this scene in the blowing dust and harsh equatorial sun seems plucked out of time."  (Ecuador Handbook 1998).

The following are some of the photos of my experience there.