Rushing for the Train

Trip Start Jan 07, 2010
Trip End Jan 28, 2010

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Saturday, January 16, 2010

As the guide Nadia and driver Christian headed back to Quito, we walked to the bus station. Bus stations are fun in Equator. They are meeting places where several private bus companies each have a stall and they are all very anxious to get as many passengers as possible. An employee walks down the waiting room hall yelling, like a town crier, the name of the city they are going to. So Riobamba would sound like "Rio Rio Rio Rio Rio Bamba"! They happily store your luggage in the bus and herd you on and then try to get more passengers on a board now, pay later basis. Even as they head out of town, the fare-taker hangs out of the open door crying the destination in hopes for a few extra fares. There are no designated bus stops in Ecuador so the bus stops anywhere to pick up extra passengers. Well ... sort of. The new passengers jump on as the bus slows down and then the fare-taker jumps on as the bus is speeding up again. Eventually, the fare-taker walks down the aisle to collect the fare which averaged about a dollar an hour per person.

In Riobamba we headed directly to the train station to get a ticket for train ride through the "Nariz de Diable" the devils nose, a hairy mountain ride and tourist attraction. Unfortunately, the tickets had sold out. So we checked in at the "Hotel de Estacion" for the night and discovered from the guy at the desk that it was easy to get a ticket at the next town "Alausi". This was on good authority; his father.

On our first walk in the town we encountered a pickup truck that was trying to get support for a local event and they obligingly posed for my photo. We bumped into them a second time and they recognised us and were even more enthusiastic, like old friends meeting.

I left my camera in the room since it was getting dark and we went for a walk in the city. Of course, then we stumbled upon a huge parade and hundreds of photo ops. As part of the parade, one pair of young ladies, in native dress, held each end of a stick with a dead chicken suspended, by its feet, in the middle. Our lack of Spanish prevented us from asking others in the crowd but if anyone knows the story behind this, we would love to know.

Supper came from a street vendor and consisted of chicken parts and potatoes, followed by a decadent rum and cranberry mix costing 7 dollars.

All of the cars and trucks that I saw in Ecuador had manual transmissions. It makes sense of course, because manual transmissions are roughly 10% better than automatics for fuel consumption. But the fuel costs were only $1.50 per gallon, perhaps because the fuel taxes are lower since they don't spend much money on the roads.

We had never heard of Alausi before, but it was on the map, and it had the promise of train tickets, so it became our next day's objective.
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Janet on

Bringing back memories of exploring the Old City. I'm enjoying revisiting thru your eyes.

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