Thursday, February 17, 2011

$4 dollar hostel ! Nariz Del Diablo (Devils nose) railway, US Currency in Ecuador, 300 year old building, meeting friends in different countries…again! Mango the size of my face! Rambo drink and the cute city of Cuenca.

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Today I drove from Riobamba Ecuador to Alausi Ecuador

I initially went to Riobamba to get some information on a train that departs from there to Alausi and to la Nariz Del Diablo, a famous feat of railway construction and a marvel.

I’ve researched this extensively and found so many different stories its ridiculous. So here goes the straight story for those using this blog for travel information.

As of this post, February 2011, the train is closed for 18 months from Riobamba to Alausi for renovations. 

But the Nariz Del Diablo is still open, but you have to get the train from Alausi to la Nariz Del Diablo.

Also I was informed that a year ago some Japanese tourists were on top of the train outside, which is why this train is famous because you can ride on the top outside on the roof of the train overlooking gorgeous scenery, but the Japanese tourists were killed by decapitation somehow and as of this posting, the government has banned riding on the outside. That may change with a different administration I’m told, but not in time for me. 

The train was re-opened just one week from this posting.

So reluctantly not being able to ride on the top of the train as I had hoped, I still went to Alausi to ride it.
The ticket was $20 US, double what I had hoped, but still I went.



Getting on the train the seats were numbered and assigned. My recommendation is the get on the right side of the train for the best view.


The ride there round trip was about 3 hours, and it was spectacular.

My nifty monopod invention continues to surprise the world



Even had some lunch at the bottom looking up at the Nariz Del Diablo. Many lives were lost in the construction of this railway and I could see why, a zig zagging railway descending from the top of the clouds to the bottom of the river is nothing easy to achieve.
The Nariz del Diablo is that mountain up ahead, the little rock pointing outward if you can see is the nose


At the beginning at Nariz del Diablo



There were even some locals dancing at the station for the tourist’s entertainment.






So like I mentioned it was illegal to sit on the top of the train, but that doesn't mean I couldn't try!



I used my invention to see what it looked like from the top



So people often ask where I park my bike at night. Here's one place

Tight Squeeze!

The next day I was off to Cuenca.

Esta foto es para ti Amy!

Tambien esta~


Funny enough my grandmother from my dad’s side of the family, her maiden name is Cuenca, so I had to at least stop by the place.

It was a cute little town, complicated as can be to get in and out of the place, but still cute.

Passed through a cool market


There were about 20 of these pigs all around the place

Never seen so many churches in the same vicinity before.








Not a church but still nice

I will also take this opportunity to point out something interesting. You know those Sacajawea $1 coins the United States put into circulation a few years back? Well personally as I’m sure everyone else will agree, American’s don’t generally use that coin and it’s almost an antique, you hardly ever see them around the States anymore.

Here the currency in Ecuador is US dollars and coins, and I bet this is the only place where that Sacajawea coin is used consistently and on a national level in this country. So all the US moneys ends up here in Ecuador, capitalism at its best.

Ok here goes the same sentence again from another posting, so remember that one guy on a KLR I met somewhere in another country? Yeah get ready for this one, it’s pretty funny.

So remember when I traveled from Panama to Colombia by boat, where I loaded my bike onto a ship and sailed the beautiful calm seas with no issues(yeah right!), I had met two gentlemen, Joe and Brian also on KLR’s on the same journey as myself. We have been emailing each other, and it turned out that Brian and I were both in the city of Cuenca at the same time.

So to re-cap, we first met each other in Panama, sailed together over the ocean, hung out in Colombia, departed ways, and a few weeks later we see each other in Ecuador. I’m going to start not acting surprised when I see people I’ve already met in different countries, as it seems this will only continue to happen.

So we met up, had a good laugh, even grabbed some $1 dollar foot long hot dogs, (I ate 3!), and once again departed ways.

As I said Cuenca is a cool little place. Besides the massive amount of cathedrals, they had a nice markets.




I bought myself the biggest Mango I’ve ever seen in my life!



When the fruit you’re eating is bigger than your hand or face put together, you know it’s big.

Also at the market was this stuff.



Hey if it’s got a picture of Rambo, it’s gotta be good!

So people have been emailing me and asking me what I do with the bike at night, and how much I’m spending on places to sleep.

So here you go, I’ll start to document this for your entertainment, I should have started in central America, but I can’t be taking pictures of absolutely everything I do, that would be too time consuming.

So as of today I hold a new personal record of $4 US dollars for a hostel in Cuenca as the cheapest so far on this trip, most others are more expensive I’ve stayed at. They even had parking for my bike!



So $4 got me a bed, a door with no lock, a shower that had hot water for 1 minute at a time, and to top it off floor boards that creaked anytime anyone in the building moved. As this was a 300 year old building I was staying in, the walls were falling apart, the pluming couldn’t even flush a grape, and when I came back at 11pm, I had to scream at the top of my lungs to wake up the attendant inside 3 stories above the street to come and open the door for me. Needless to say, it was great!




The next day I made my daily fruit and pastry run, and took a nice random picture of the typical Ecuador outfit.

Yes lady, I just took a picture of you. I’ve always been very shy about taking peoples pictures, and feel bad for doing so without their permission, but I was leaving Ecuador and didn’t have time to ask.



So on my way to Vilcabamba I went. The only reason I was headed there was because some guy I spoke to at another hostel had a friend that’s traveled all over the world said the best hostel he’s ever stayed at was in this town.

Well that was good enough for me! Onward to Vilcabamba!