After leaving Baños, unsuccessfull with our paragliding endeavor… we headed south again through Ambato on to Riobamba for the adventurous Nariz Del Diablo train ride leaving early the next morning.
We got to town late at night and found a cheapo motel, nothing new there. We had to wake rather early for the 7:30 departure time. We were rather lucky because the hotel was one block from the station. We got there just a few minutes before the train was set to leave, and made sure we purchased a cushion for $1… Its a must! Sitting on the roof of a cargo train for 7 hours and with that wavey corrugated steel sheets for a roof… I?m talking NO FUN for the RUMP.
Man, there were a TON of gringos on that roof. By far the most I?ve seen in one place at one time thus far on this trip, and at $11.50 a pop, the tourist industry is still booming in Riobamba. They must really luv us gringos! I felt like we were being carted around on a carnival ride to look at all the indiginous people at work in their fields and gardens. Some of the people actually waved at us and smiled, and i really couldnt figure out if it was out of pure kindness, or if it they were just laughing at all of us! Along the way we would stop in a small town to let some people on to sell us things like empanadas, candy, cola, water, et cetera. But by far, the best of them all was the tiny little town we stopped in where there were 50 kids standing around on the ground. A few of the kids climbed up on board and started “selling” lollie-pops. The point was to sell us “lollies for the children” and then we could throw them down to the kids on the ground and watch them scramble around competing for them. I must say these kids had the most incredible business plan I?ve ever seen. Sell us candy ($1 a pop) and then simply give it back to them. I never actually saw ONE kid with a lollie in his mouth! Why eat it now when they could just sell it back to us again and get another dollar? It was ingenious!
There were probably more old Germans there than any other, and about one in four of them were weilding a nifty digital video camera. They recorded virtually the whole boring ride. It was sooo utterly boring that Paul and I were already feeling sorry for the grandkids back home that will have to watch this horribly boring home-video. We sat next to a Canadian chap named James Walter. Very nice guy and had some nice convro with him and his Peruvian girlfriend. Finally the train came to Alaus?, the town just before the famed Devil’s Nose! a 30 minute bathroom break and we started down the mountain… man this was getting good!!! We turned a few curves… dropped some elevation went across a tiny bridge and all of a sudden we were there, in the middle of the “hardest railroad in the world”. Man, it was hairraisingly SCARY!
Okay, okay, the truth… it was nothing more than a zig-zag down this fairly steep cliff. As soon as we got to the bottom we stopped again for another 25 minutes. It wasnt hairraising at all and probably not work the 7 hour ass-pain and a half… I mean our asses were still in pain quite a bit from the bike ride in Baños a few days before, and by now you have a sense of my bitterness about this gringo train from hell. Definitely a funny experience, and I?ve got mixed feelings about how “cultural” it actually was but anyway…Live and learn. :)