The animal market, cockfighting, Quito and the half of the world

Hello everyone! This time a photo-story of the animal market in Otavalo, the cockfighting, Quito and the “mitad del mundo” (the half of the world) where the equator passes, about 20 km north of Quito.


Otavalo comes alive on Saturday when the whole center becomes a giant market, mostly indigenous, from the square Los Ponchos all around until out of town, where there is the most interesting part: the animal market , whith pigs, sheep, chickens, dogs, cats, alpacas, guinea pigs, etc. …


Child selling a dog.


Another child with dog.




From a certain age, I abjured eating meat, and the time will come when men such me will consider the killing of animals as the killing of men.
-Leonardo da Vinci


Some women were there with just one animal to sell.


Cats in cage.


Woman bought a cat.




Little pigs meet each others.




Guina pigs.


Child caressing a sheep.


Two women.


The cockfighting is more or less as you imagine or saw in some Hollywood movie. From a small door behind the curtains of the market, I came in a dirty and cramped place, with people a bit shady and tickets of dollars passing back and forth for betting…

Each cock has a coach (I think also owner) who spurs him during the fight and, just like football coaches, each has his own style, from who stresses out all throughout the match to who keeps staying almost impassible.
Even the cocks have their own fighting style: some were always excited and threw pecks continuously, while others preferred to remain almost stationary to dodge, and then suddenly run very quick peck on the neck.

The bad thing is that the match ends with the death of one of the two cocks . I did not know, otherwise I would not have gone there. But there is no doubt that the fight has its charm, looks like something from another time.


The last match I saw was the most beautiful, also because it ended in a draw and then both cocks were saved. Looking at the two coaches, from the beginning I was curious to know who would have won: one was a big boaster, that also incited the audience, the other seemed like an Eastern sage, quiet and focused.
In the first minutes, in fact, the boaster was running around the ring even more of his cock, spurring with sweeping gestures and shouting, while the other coach almost didn’t participate.


However, after about 5 minutes, they both start to behave similarly, giving just some silent advice to the cock, from time to time.
At about three minutes left (of 10 total) the fight became very harsh. The two cocks pinched each others with ferocity and violence, without thinking to defend themselves and also the public became excited. There must also be some rules that I didn’t understand because sometimes the referee stopped the match, as in a boxing break, sparking protests from coach and fans or, vice-versa, requests of interruption for irregularities.
At the last minute the two cocks were exhausted and bleeding, almost couldn’t fight and even the coaches knew it would end in a draw and didn’t spur them more.


Quito , the capital of Ecuador, is located at 2800 meters above sea level. The beautiful historic center, the “Old Town”, is composed largely of colonial buildings.


A dancer at the “Plaza Grande” in Quito, where there is the palace of the government and almost every day there are demonstrators who demand their rights or protest against government decisions. Indigenous, animal rights activists, trade unionists… This was a traditional dance group.
Apparently it is not unusual that the president Correa comes out is to discuss directly with the protesters.


In the historical center of Quito, there are many baroque churches, extraordinaries especially inside, with a unique style, “the school of Quito”, born from the fusion of indigenous and Spanish styles, including Moorish. This is the church of San Francesco.


One foot in one hemisphere and one foot in the other, at “mitad del mundo”.


But now I have a little polemic note : I don’t understand why the Ecuador has taken this sort of “copyright” on the equator. Doing a quick check on the world map I saw that it goes on at least 10 states. Why then the Ecuador has taken the name , the site “mitad del mundo”, the various museums on equator etc …? From now on I will be more critical in the analysis of the places I visit, because many things do not add up.


At the “mitad del mundo” I met two very nice ladies of Guayaquil, the second largest city in Ecuador. Here we were in a little museums around there, dedicated to insects and where is possible to play with giant cockroaches.


The experiment of the egg on the equator. The egg is balanced on the head of a nail. And indeed it is true, but I never tried to do it elsewhere, so I don’t know if this is possible only there, and actually I’m very sceptical. Try it for yourself and let me know, if it goes wrong, you will eat omelette.


I answer the comment:
Thank you Yannick! And good luck for the Chelsea final! :-)

Searches at the border and Otavalo in Ecuador

Hi friends! After 3 months of travel I arrived in Ecuador, a country of which, at moment, I know only that, in fact, the equator passes on it.
But we’ll discover it together.

After San Agustin, I took the road from Mocoa to Pasto, which seemed as spectacular as dangerous. Rock walls with dense vegetation, hundreds of meters high, went down until the river, which ran in a narrow strait. Many waterfalls, with water passing sometimes above the dirt road, with signs of landslide and falling rocks.
It was very narrow, with the wheels of the bus touching the edge, and even looking out the window often I could not see the road below, only the cliff.
When we met another vehicle began complicated maneuvers, often in reverse, to pass both.
But the view from up there was amazing, until it became dark and the shadows made it even more scaring. Shortly after it started raining and the road became a mud and with very low visibility. And finally, only then I remembered that in those areas on the border with Ecuador it’s dangerous to travel at night for the risk of being attacked by armed bandits, as happened a few years ago at an Italian guy I met in Santa Marta, Oscar.

However all right, and after a day in Pasto, I arrived to the border.
I already had my passport stamped for exit from Colombia and I was walking to Ecuador when a Colombian policeman called me for searching.
This time they also checked the two main pockets of the photo-backpack, the ones that, jokingly, I told you containing 3 kilos of cocaine. In reality, however, they contain something perhaps even more valuable: the red panties of Joyce. Not so much for Joyce, a Brazilian girl with whom I stayed more than 10 years ago, but because these panties bring good luck and so I keep them always close to me.
Now, in many controls, a bit ‘all over the world, when found, the police were always very professional, but in Colombia… he started laughing “Ah ah ah ah ah ah, I didn’t think… you didn’t seem … ah ah”. No, wait, those are a from Brazilian girl… that you could just dream in the night, maybe in your lonely wankering, I also wanted to add but I didn’t because in the end I’m always careful to not saying things that might hurt.
“Mmm … true? True?” Of course it’s the truth! But we are here to find drugs or to talk about souvenirs? And if you stop enlarging them with your ugly hands for observing from all angles, you make me a favor.
However, shortly after, the search ended and I arrived in Ecuador.
I took a bus from the border, towards Otavalo. About 10 minutes later: stooop. The police came up and checked the documents to everybody. After that, me and another 3 or 4 people had to go down for searching.
Again, they searched especially my photo-backpack and especially on the same side, the rear, where I put the laptop.
So, an advice for would-be traffickers: never place it there! And if the other time they pulled the internal parts, breaking them, this time the policeman made little holes inside it with a boxcutter and when I protested he said: not worry, no breaks, no breaks … and meanwhile he punctured it with the little knife. Dunno, maybe “break” has another meaning in Spanish.
Meanwhile, he was pulling Zeus, the police dog, to sniff these little holes. But Zeus did not show any interest, he was sniffing around like a crazy, except my backpack and despite the policeman forcefully pushed his head inside, there was no way, nothing that would attract his sniffing, not even the Joyce’s panties, until a boy, a bit ‘strange, also in line for the checking, gave him a kind of pudding on which Zeus jumped to devour among the desperate cries of the policeman “noooo what have you done? Now he will not sniff anymore!”. And amid the general laughter, also this search finished.

I went back on the bus and we left. After an hour: stoooop. Again the police on the bus, again checking documents to everybody and this time I had the honour of being the only one having to go down for the search. Long, both backpacks and nothing served the protests of the driver telling them: but he has been already checked! “Do not you meddle, let us do it …”.
So with 4 searches, I recommend you to not have drugs within 200 km of the border between Colombia and Ecuador. And if you must, at least remember to always carry with you a pudding to donate to the dog. ;-)


Bird statue in San Agustin.


It has been said that this sculpture represents the “Double-self”, the warrior with the spirit of the animal that guide him.




San Agustin street.


Sugar cane.


Sugar making.




Writings on the City council wall against politicians in Pasto, Colombia.


And here we are in… Ecuador, in the famous Otavalo market.


Woman at market.


Otavalo is located at 2500 meters and is surrounded by three volcanoes, including the Cotacachi, 5000 meters high. Even today it is inhabited mostly by indigenous peoples, who came here in ancient times and formed a sort of confederation with other advanced communities around. They were subdued, before the arrival of the Spaniards, by the Incas, after decades of war that led to the massacre of most of the population.




No more blood for oil.


I want you… for the revolution!


Student girls.


Otavalo women.


Man with newspaper.


At the bus station.




Abstract composition with a goat in the middle.


Fruit stall.


Woman with colored background.


Mother and daughter.


One of the few families in the world that still makes the wool by hand, without machinery. I bought a hat from them, $2.


I reply to the comment:
Hi Yannick! My plan is to go also in all the little Central America countries (Nicaragua, Costarica, Guatemala, etc…). Not sure if I can make it, because of the money, but I think I will. :-)