Where are we?

Nariz del diablo train ride

Saturday con't

After watching all the locals take their animals to the market we travelled to Riobamba (cool name!) because I thought we could buy our tickets there for the train ride from Alausi to Sibambe but nope the office is closed until Monday. Train only stops in Riobamba 3 times a week. So we drive around a little and find nothing to really keep us here so we go back the same way we came from to get to Alausi which is an hour away.  Riobamba is more a stop over for those that want to climb Volcán Chimborazo.

Along our way to Alausi we did stop at a small town where we went into the oldest church in Ecuador. Built in 1534.  There is a small museum next to the church that we go thru before going into the church. It was an interesting stop along the way as was seeing a number of small roadside restaurants cooking cuy over coals!  Nope did not buy one, can't see myself having to cut one up like a rotisserie chicken!!! I would probably try it if ordered off a menu :)

Bull ring in Riobamba

Love how this dog is watching traffic
Oldest church in Ecuador - 1534

Pretty amazing it's still standing with all the earthquakes in this area

Church and monastery at the side where the museum is housed

These windows show how thick the walls are 

Cuy on the bbq :) 

We arrive at Alausi just before lunch. We park outside the train station and go in. There is no one at the desk. I know a train went out at 11 and should be returning at 1:30 so will check again then. This ride we are going to take is only 12.5 kms but takes us thru the most difficult part of the track from Quito to Guayaquil. The track was built in 1902 and they had to zigzag the track into the side of the mountain. Will be an interesting ride.

We meet the train as it arrives back in Alausi and were able to get our tickets for Sunday's 8am trip.

The town is very quiet today. Only a few fruit vendors setup in the main square. We walk up to the huge statue on the hill of Jesus. Get a nice view of the area from up here.  We continue to walk around and end up buying one piece of chicken and fries each for only $3. We sit on a bench in the middle of main street. A dog comes up to see us right away LOL!!

We go back towards the van and some older kids with clipboards stop us and ask if we would answer some questions for them, it's a assignment from their school.  They have to ask us about 10 questions in English. As one is asking the questions another student is making a video of it on her phone. Then they switch.  We end up doing this for 4 of the students. I'm sure they would have a hard time today to find many people they could ask questions to in English. They just asked our name, how old we are, what is our favourite music artist, who long we will be in Ecuador and was it the train that brought us here to Alausi. It was fun helping them out, it must have been hard for them to ask these questions in English.

Instead of going back to the van we decide to go have a coffee and hot chocolate and some wifi at the restaurant next to the train station. I was hoping once I got the password, we could use the connection in Vanna - but no, too far away.  After supper we just do some reading, I'm reading my Spanish book to review, learn AND retain some new words 😉

Bought myself a little camera bag 

Not sure what this little fire truck is for 

This bakery had so many cakes! Just doesn't seem there are enough people around to eat these!
Statue of Jesus up on the hill, so we decided to walk there

Stairs up to the park where the Jesus statue is -not sure what the significants is of the guy with the horn

Can you see Dwayne by the railing?

View of Alausi 

The Plastic Stuff salesman :) He actually stopped so I could get a better picture :) 

Artwork on a building wall

Sunday Nov 24th

Wow almost the end of November and we still have probably 2 weeks left in Ecuador of things we want to see!

Since we are parked right by the train station last night we are close by for the 8am boarding. We end up talking with a guy from Quebec. He saw our passports and asked where we were from and then asked if that was our van. He also has a van - a Roadtec and he was thinking of doing the same thing so was asking lots of questions.

The ride on the train was fun. We are in a refurbished old train car, but not sure when it was first built only that it was refurbished in the 1980s.  The track we follow is really cool - we first go up at quite an angle - Dwayne can't understand how steel wheels on steel rail tracks can pull going up at this angle. It is strange. Then we go down and unto a spur track to level out, at which point a railway worker pulls the switch so we go the opposite direction with the locomotive PUSHING us up the side of the mountain! We then get to the next spur and once straightened out the track is switched again and then locomotive once again pulls us. Pretty cool way of getting around the Devil's nose!

We continue a little further down the track and stop at the next station. Here we have an hour to spend watching indigenous dancers and also have coffee or a meal at the restaurant.

We get back to Alausi at 10:30. Talk to the Swiss couple we met at the Condor park. They are going on a 3 day camping trip with donkey's carrying the supplies and baggage to Incapirca the largest Inca ruins in Ecuador and built in the 1400's.  Guess that would probably be easier then the Inca trail to Machu Picchu!!  No thanks to both :)

Our train car, yup we're the last car

We had a tour group from France in our car

Here we are crossing the river, later you'll see how high we have gone when you see this river again
There is the 2nd track we go down in the middle and the 3rd track is where the red arrow is in lower right
And that's the river again way down at the bottom of the mountain

There's the 2nd set of tracks and then the 3rd down by the station

Here is the switch from track 1 to track 2 

Now we are the 1st car and the engine pushes us uphill and then downhill

We get pushed to the end of this spur so then the locomotive can switch tracks and start pulling us again

Dancers and one of the guys wearing a knitted festive mask

The women dance and pull yarn and wind onto a stick

Picture from museum to show how the mountain was carved for the railway.

Another old picture showing a steam engine pulling cars 

A derailment elsewhere because this is in 1898- big mess! 

As we were at the station a work train headed up the Devil's Nose 

All Aboard!!! 

Another Ecuadorian treat sold in the streets - flavoured meringue 

That is put into a cone and eaten like an ice cream. 😋

Finally get things organized in Vanna for the next drive. The streets are busy today! Then we see the market in the side street - that explains it. Yesterday it was like a ghost town here!

We are now heading to the Pacific coast to Puerto Lopez. We were told this is a good place to stay to take a trip to Isla del Plata,  a cheaper version of the Galápagos 😍  It's over 5hrs away so not sure we will make it today.  We head out of Alausi on a different road going west.  It seemed to be a good idea until the road got really rough! Lots of pot holes for Dwayne to dodge.  But it did get a little better as we drove along. THEN we were on the road to hell because we were driving in the CLOUDS, even though we were only at 4000'!  It was hard to see much further then 5 feet in front of the van!  Not a great road at all but again no place to really turn off and wait for how long?? Hours, days?? Is this normal up here and we'd be here for months?? LOL!!! Every so often it would clear and I could breath again, but not for long because it would sock in again.  Man I was very happy to start going down and out of the clouds!  Finally got back down to 300'.

The foggy road!

And we're going to go into more :(

Once we got out of the highlands and closer to the coast we see many banana plantations 

They bag the bananas to keep the bugs/birds from eating them

And we drive by sugar cane fields 

We keep going west and get to Guayaquil - larger city than Quito with 3M people. It's very busy as we drive along the outskirts of the city on a Sunday afternoon.  Its also a lot warmer here then what we've been use to being that it's located by the ocean.  But we are not stopping in Guayaquil we're driving further northwest. But after driving another hour it's 5pm so we find the next best looking gas station and drive in and park for the night.  We still have 2 hours to drive - the clouds really slowed us down!

A quick glance at Guayaquil as we cross a bridge 

At one stop we found an ostrich 

And when it got close to me it hissed like a goose! Pretty scary when a big bird comes close!! 

Also found they use tuk tuks here but some, like this one, is larger and can transport at least 6 without hanging out the sides! LOL!! 

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