Ecuador (Part III)
We really like the short and cheap bus rides in Ecuador! In general for every hour you travel on a bus you pay USD 1! Very cheap and the buses in general are of decent quality! We arrived in Riobamba and got a taxi to Paul Moreno’s home, our next couchsurfing host.
Paul is a fantastic host and not only gave us much information about Riobamba, but also toured us around the main sites of Riobamba before he went to work. We saw the main buildings, iglesias and plazas in the city. We also went to the local market with Paul and had a fresh juice with ice from the Volcan Chimborazo! Check out the pictures!
After touring the lovely town of Riobamba (according to blogs on the net some people love it or hate it – we genuinely loved it and would recommend a day or two visit to this town), we followed Paul’s advice we went to the small town of Guano, about 20 minutes outside Riobamba. We enjoyed visiting Guano, walking around the streets and trying the famous local chorizo dish of the town. Thanks for the recommendation Paul.
Whilst in Riobamba we also got to meet Paul’s brother and nephew at his family’s restaurant. Inside the restaurant on the walls were framed pictures of Paul’s family and we very much so enjoyed listening to Paul’s stories about his family’s history and origin! We had a great 2 nights and day in Riobamba, thanks Paul for being so kind and hospitable!
Alausi (Nariz del Diablo Tren)
We went from Riobamba to Alausi in order to catch the famous Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) train. Unfortunately due to major upgrade and maintenance on the line you could only catch the train from Alausi to Sibambe and not from Riobamba.
Under the current government there is an initiative to rebuild and upgrade the complete old train line from Guayaquil to Quito! It is quite ambitious but nevertheless an important part of history in the Ecuadorian Andean region.
The “Nariz del Diablo” is famous for the many switch backs it has because of the railway lines were built into a mountain face. The switch backs involve the train going past the turning point on the track in order for it to continue the journey. Once the train goes past the turning point, the line then alters so the train can continue in the originally intended direction of its destination. Amazing engineering feat how they were able to build tracks in these conditions and in such an environment! No wonder so many workers died trying to build this marvelous network in Ecuador. Check out our pictures!
It was well worth the visit, just a shame we were not able to ride on the roof of the train like you were able to do until authorities stopped this in 2008!
Further south we go… to Cuenca.
Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador and is the capital of the Azuay Province. It is located in the highlands of Ecuador at about 2500 m above sea level. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site because of its many historical colonial buildings. Cuenca is to Ecuador what Sucre is to Bolivia.
We had a fabulous few days here taking it easy walking around the beautiful and well maintained historical centre. It reminded us a lot of Sucre in Bolivia just on a much larger scale. There were many beautiful colonial buildings, iglesias and plazas in Cuenca. It was a very easy city to walk around and relatively safe APART from the one night we saw some local lads get into a fight. One young chap proceeded to pull out a gun and pistol whip his opponent across the face! High drama and action that night, but we made sure we rapidly increased the 6m distance between them and us!
We stayed in a lovely place that had a cute little courtyard area and great Internet so we were able to catch up on our website, emails, skyping our parents and doing research and working out a plan and route for Colombia.
One of our highlights in Cuenca was meeting the Doost family (Omid, Jennifer, Ryan and Ariana). Thanks to Facebook I saw a posting that my friends the Shadravan’s had posted and there was a picture of Jennifer Doost and a local artist in Cuenca posted. I saw this post and could not believe that friends of the Shad's could be in the same place as us at the same moment in time! So I posted a message on Facebook and Omid saw it. Make a long story short, we got in touch and met up at the same café as the Doost’s and the Shad’s were all at last summer when they were here in Cuenca on a visit! It was SO lovely to meet the family. Good luck with your new life in Cuenca, I am sure you will love it and I sure hope our paths will cross again! Hope the kids are enjoying school, have made friends and the two dogs are well. Genuinely some of the nicest people we have met on our trip!
We had a great few days in Cuenca and also really enjoyed a “taste of Colombia” at a great place called “Moliendo”. The owner is Colombian and gave us great tips on our forthcoming trip to his homeland. We enjoyed several Colombian meals at his place. Thanks
That is all for Part 3! You will be hearing from Dingo for Part 4. Stay tuned…