Sunday, April 5, 2015

Riobamba, Alausi and the Devil's Nose

A few weeks ago, my friend Rick and I decided we needed a little get away. So we took a whirlwind 36 hour trip from Cuenca to Riobamba, Alausi, and The Devil's Nose Train Ride.

First the cost of the trip: Bus ride from Cuenca to Riobamba - $6, Lunch in Riobamba- Almuerezo for $1.00, Bus from Riobamba to Alausi- 1.10, Dinner in Alausi - $6, Hotel in Alausi - $31, Train ride - $25, Lunch in Alausi - $6, Bus back to Cuenca $4.00.  Total cost:  $80.00

(Our 5 am departure.  Thanks Mauricio for transporting us to the bus terminal at 4am! That is a true friend!)

The trip from Cuenca to Riobamba was about 6.5 hours, we left at 5:15 am. Those of us from the States would plan to take a book or sleep for such a long bus ride. And we did kind of plan to sleep after our early departure. But there was no way that was going to happen.  The trip was amazing, the bus was super comfortable with reclining seats, leg room, etc. And many of the Ecuadorians did sleep, but not us. The views for the entire trip were sooo amazing. We just about couldn't pull our eyes away from the windows, except to great people getting on the bus along the way. We had the advantage of being in the very front seats, so we saw everyone boarding and disembarking the bus. The people were SO friendly, lots of smiles, and a few giggles at the children.

Out the windows there are mountains everywhere, twisting and turning in all directions. The vegetation was lovely and intriguing as we watched the landscape literally change colors before our eyes (of course we were probably traveling about 50-60 MPH). The towns we could see off in the distance were charming.
(At the Train station in Riobamba...A neat place with a museum, an artisan market, and most importantly a map of the city.)

Riobamba is a city closer to Quito than Cuenca. The altitude there is about 9,000 feet above sea level, and the city is surrounded by 5 volcanoes. While there, we visited a couple of parks, a church or two, a couple of museums, the train station, and a park where we had hoped to see the top of one of the volcanoes in the distance. After climbing the 1,000 steps to enter the park (just kidding it was probably only 50, but it sure felt like 1,000), the clouds had moved in and we couldn't see the tops of the mountains/volcanoes so we didn't know which was which. But we discovered a beautiful church.  then as we stood looking at the scenery, the town, and relaxing before our climb back down, we saw a small patch of snow on one of the mountains in the distance. We got so excited, we had found the volcano!  We knew the patch was snow as opposed to a cloud because the sun hit it just right and it sparkled.

The snow topped Volcano, we chuckled because on this day our friends in the southern US were experiencing horrible winter weather, and while we were seeing snow too, we were doing it in short sleeves (about 72 degrees), worrying about sun burn and eating fresh coconut ice cream, mmmmm)

Then we took the bus to Alausi, and we rested, because the fog had moved in and it felt as though we were moving through a solid white tunnel.  When we arrived at Alausi it was dark, and it is a very small town. But it is Beautiful!  The locals were friendly and we only saw one other Gringo, who we met the next day. Turns out he is from Belgium, we loved talking to him.

(The 1,000 steps leading up to the park)

Early the next morning was the highlight of our trip, the Train ride to Devil's Nose. In the 1800's, an American Engineer partnered with an Ecuadorian Engineer to construct a railroad to move people and supplies from the Andes region to the Coast. This particular section of the rail went from Quayaquil to Quito. The Devil's Nose is the result of dynamite blasting between mountains to create a path for the rail. Some believe that when you look at the mountain, you can see a head with a large ridge forming the nose and the rail line below forming the mouth. Others believe the name the Devil's nose comes strictly from the fact that 2500 men lost their lives at that location trying to construct the rail.  This particular passage is not used for commerce anymore, just tourism.

Main Street in Alausi

The train ride, visit at the Devil's nose station and return take about 2.5 hours. Upon our return to Alausi, we wandered through the town, it was so charming, ate lunch and hiked the big hill to catch the passing bus back to Cuenca.

 Our train

Devil's Nose Mountain from the side

If you are ever in Ecuador, the Devil's Nose train ride is definitely a must see.
There are literally hundreds of pics of our trip on facebook, visit me there to see them.

Happy Easter and thanks for reading my blog.

Scarlett Braden
in Cuenca, Living the good life!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful trip and very good re-telling. Feels like I've been there!