I had a lovely time at the beach. I flopped about a lot, and sometimes I went in the sea - I didn't actually swim, as it was impossible to get out beyond the breaking waves before one of them picked me up and tossed me about and landed me on the beach with sand in my pants. I suspect it would have been a red flag beach at home - but it was such fun!
And I couldn't miss the carnival - I've no idea what's being celebrated, but who cares! There's no dressing up here - quite the reverse. Because it's a time for throwing water and foam over each other, and smearing blue or green or red paint on people's faces. So it's a very messy affair (I managed to avoid the paint bit, but got caught in the crossfire of a squirty-foam fight!).
But it was time to move on - back into the mountains, and to Otavalo, which is where a huge market has been held on Saturdays since ... well, forever. Local people selling local crafts. It's noisy and crowded and wonderful. I'm not a natural shopper, but faced with a table looking like this, it was wonderfully tempting.
There were hammocks and bags and ponchos and blankets; hats and jewellery and pan pipes. There's a food section, with a sudden smell of cinnamon. Stalls piled high with mangoes and melons and avocados and custard apples. Broccoli and carrots and sacks of potatoes. Women in corners shelling peas. More women cooking, wiping their eyes from the smoke. I might not be a shopper but I do love markets. And yes, I've bought some stuff.
I've had a guide with me for three days. Poor man. He's not into markets. He had been told to look after me, and trailed behind me round the market with all the enthusiasm of a scolded dog. He carried bags for me, haggled for me when I couldn't keep track of the numbers (I'm fine up to about 15), but didn't manage a smile till we were back in the car.