Howdy all. I have just arrived in the southern Ecuadorian city of Cuenca. I’m moving fast at the moment, frankly a little too fast but this is what happens when you have dates lockedd in further down the track (Macchu Picchu soecifically).
Riobamba was an interesting place. Not unpleasant, lots of squares and interesting buildings. I checked out the free City Museum which wasn’t so interesting but there was a small orchestra rehearsing in there at the time which was nice. Then I visited the Museum attached the to Convent of the Immaculate Conception which had a whole raft of statues and the like to see.
The city itself was surrounded by mountains, in particular Chimborazo which is a giant volcano covered in snow that can be seen from most places around. But I had come to Riobamba to connect with a train journey called the Nariz Diablo, or the Devil’s Nose in English.
A two-hour bus ride away to Alausi is where one takes the train from, a four-carriage diesal locomtive-pulled affair. It goes from Alausi to Simbambe and descends over five hundred metres in the 45 minute journey. 4800 workers worked on it back in the 19th century, 2500 of them died.
It’s an amazing feat of engineering, I gather an incredible amount of dynamite was used. The most difficult section is over the last part of the descent to Simbambe which is down a hill that does, in all fairness, look a bit like a nose. To solve issues they decided to use a ‘switchback system’, where the train reverses over a point to the next one where it then starts going forwards again. I have done a really bad job of describing that. Similar to the railway I took to Inle Lake in Myanmar.
Anyways, there’ll be a post with far more detail when I return home. At Simbambe there was some tradional dancing and a small museum, plus a cafe. It’s all for the tourists, it wasn’t nearly as wild as I was hoping, but it was amazing nonetheless. The carriages were very comfortable and I was lucky enough to be on the best side for views. Well worth the trip.
Take care everyone will be a few days before I can blog again. May the Journey Never End!