This first area is called the "Zona de Productores" and along with the Feria Baja, which is crammed in along the edges of the principal sidewalks, it houses the wholesale and retail stalls of local fruit orchards. (In this sense, "local" means any of the surrounding counties of the province, as well as the urban orchards.) In June, which is winter, most of what's available are late-season apples and peaches, along with smaller fruits and berries.
This video is a walk down the main aisle of the entrance to the Zona de Productores. It's pretty wild - I've wanted to show you all how overwhelming this market can be, and this gives a good idea of it. Now we just need to figure out a way to transmit smells!
I bought uvillas (the smaller golden berries, known in English as Cape Gooseberries), but chose not to take any Nispero (Loquat) home. I'm also so tired of Tunas (prickly pears) that I left them as well, even though the season this year has been exemplary. It's primarily peaches and mandarine oranges towards the lowland production sector of this roof, with a few Granadilla (white passionfruit) thrown in for variety. Strawberries and Mora (wild blackberry) are always on offer here.
However! I was in the Zona de Productores for another reason (beyond delicious fruit, which is more than enough reason itself!) Doña Soraya has her cart here, and it's one of the best places in Ambato to get Arepas de Guaranda. These are large buckwheat pancakes stuffed with very salty fresh cheese, and they're part of the typical offerings of the city of Guaranda, in neighbouring Bolívar province. Soraya and her family have been selling these arepas at the Ambato wholesale market for more than 100 years, dating back to when the market was simply a gathering in a farmer's field. She no longer cooks them on a clay tiesto, she says because it's too hard to keep a good tiesto in one piece on a mobile pushcart.
Arepas de Guaranda are incredibly filling, despite not looking like a very large snack - I blame the buckwheat! $1 gets you a hot arepa and a cup of Soraya's special horchata, an herbal tea based on hibiscus and anywhere from 20-40 other flowers and herbs; this one is served with a squirt of sweet lemon juice in it. It's warming, refreshing, and the perfect thing to wash down the arepa.