The OtavaleÃ±os have been long renowned for their weaving skills, and over the last few decades have become the most successful indigenous group on the continent, thanks to the popularity of their weekly craft market. Although most still live in the hills around the town and wear traditional clothing, this doesn't mean they are poorâ€“it is not unusual to see families of six or seven loading rugs into their brand new Toyota Land Cruisers at the end of the day, or women carrying baskets of grain up the hill while talking on their cell phones.
The market itself offers a fantastic wealth of crafts, especially alpaca goods (sweaters, hats, scarves, gloves, etc.), weavings, jewelry, hammocks, rugs and more. The main market takes place on Saturday, when stalls appear in the Plaza de Ponchos and on the surrounding streets. Although you can visit the market in a day from Quito (the trip is approximately two hours by bus), many tourists also choose to arrive on Friday night. Getting to town early will not only give you a chance to enjoy an almost empty craft market before the day trippers arrive (and prices rise), but will also give you a chance to visit the weekly animal market (see below).When you go to the market, remember to try to bargain for what you're buying. Haggling may feel uncomfortable at first, especially if you're not used to debating prices, but remember that negotiating for sales is commonplace here, and locals do it all the time. Knowing what an item should cost is difficult, but you can generally expect to pay half to two-thirds of the original asking price. Offer half of the original price that the vendors quote and settle at just above.