La Nariz del Diablo y el Estomago de Maya

Trip Start Nov 24, 2007
Trip End May 15, 2008

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

After surviving my wonderful gut trauma in Baņos ( the second of the trip for me thus far because I'll eat type of suspect street food without hesitation) we hit the road for Riobamba, famous for its mountainous scenery as well as the jumping off point for the Nariz del Diablo (Devils Nose) train ride. Feeling like I could conquer the world, or more like finally be able to eat real food again, we set foot in Riobabma with ambitious goals to head into Sangay National Park to El Altar, a blown out and now jagged peak mountain, do the Devils Nose train ride and most importantly of course, find the 6th edition of Harry Potter in Spanish for Maya before she plummeted into depression. In less than 24 hours, that all changed. As quickly as the gut fairy had come and gone for me, it had struck again. This time, Maya got the bad end of the deal. We are slowly but surely building up our immunities.

Riobamba is a great city. While not an overly attractive city per say, it makes up for it with stunning surrounding scenery. Say that three times quickly. Bad weather and overcast days prevented us from seeing a whole lot of it but the little that we did see was quite nice. Basically, the city is surrounded by a whole bunch of mountains, Mt. Chimborazo being the highest in Ecuador and in actuality, its peak is the furthest from the center of the planet because of the extent of the bulge on the equator.

Maya was sick for almost two days which was a pretty quick recovery being that we met and heard of people being out for 5-6 days from the same type of food passed illness. More than anything we were a little bummed not to be able to do the things that we wanted. We did however manage to go check out the Nariz del Diablo train ride, which when it was finally completed in 1908 was one of the worlds greatest railway journeys in the world and to this day is quite a trip. Once aboard we chugged through the countryside along a small river, passing quintessential highland towns, small old farm houses, women out in patchwork fields tending to their crops and the all too common pretty scenery.  Further adding to the fun (or not) was our 2.5 hour breakdown after a 3,000 ft decent in which our train became slightly derailed going around a corner. Our cabin sat smack-dab in the middle of a bridge the entire time as well so we looked down at the river rushing below and to get out and walk around you had to scale the old railroad beams to set foot on solid ground.  Looking back, it must have been all too common of an occurrence as the trusty olī train operators used rocks, steel bars and by far the most interesting of tool of all, the agave plant which resembles a giant aloe plant to get the engine and the first cabin back on track. Rocks and Steel as the jack, the plant for some lubrication! I'm a little unsure of what to think from that point on. We climbed back up the other side of the mountain before descending down the Devils Nose section, hugging the side of the mountain on one side and peering seemingly straight down on the other. Great views and we made it safely. Iīm a little tired and cutting it short right here.  All in all, a good but not efficiently spent time in Riobamba. We did manage to find Harry Potter y El Misterio del Principe though!
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