Trip Start Jan 07, 2010
18Trip End Jan 28, 2010
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Where I stayed
Anxious to get a ticket for the fabled train, we rose at 5:15 am, taxied to the bus, and braced ourselves for the 100km trip south to Alausi. One encounters all types of people on busses but I didn't expect a native lady to sit down in the aisle with her son and start eating. We were also not prepared for the smell. Wow! But fortunately, the food was all eaten; they got up again and later left the bus.
We arrived at Alausi and walked directly to the train station. There was a note on the train station door explaining, in broken English and Spanish, that there were no tickets for the train ride. So much for the varying bits of advice that we had received thus far; all conflicting and all without success.
We booked in at the Panamericano Hotel. The grand name did not help its humble decor. We were the only guests at the time and a helpful man at the desk informed us that the owner's wife had just died and he and other relatives had come down from Quito for the funeral. I felt sorry for the owner, and suspected that his wife had run the business and he did not appear to be able to take over easily.
Alausi is a colourful town and we were fortunate to arrive on Sunday, the day the native people come into town to buy and sell products. Our hotel window allowed me to photograph native people as they are. A treat. It was in Alausi that I noticed that some of the native women were wearing white bowler hats instead of the fedora. "They are the Caņaries" according to a knowledgeable sounding woman I met. Their native dress was even more colourful than I had seen before and they all seemed happy.
Both Rosamund and I noticed that all of the children we met, from all cultures in Ecuador, seemed happy. They were on planes and busses, in markets and often walking or being carried in the streets and almost always smiling and happy. In the grocery market, one even grabbed on to my arm and I lifted him to his delight about 1 foot off the ground, leaving him to swing for a few seconds. He then happily ran off with his friends. We discussed the differences in environments, wealth, and parental behaviour but did not come up with any answers.
There were several markets in town. The food market was full of colourful vegetables fruit and meat. We ate lunch in the multi-boothed kitchen above the market. Each cook, typically native, had her own stall with a propane burner and her own supply of food and recipes. As the only tourists we created a bit of a stir as we compared options, finally deciding one of them. Our server graciously offered to take our picture. At another booth we sampled a blender made green alfalfa drink and a bottle of "Pony" malt (not beer). There was also a market for hardware and bulk foods (corn, beans, rice, and potatoes) as well as one for textiles and art.
A statue of San Pedro dominated the town with a pious stare from the top of a nearby hill. I have no idea who San Pedro was but he was probably Catholic. He was made of ceramic material covered with a mosaic of tiles
That evening we made plans to bus directly to the Inca ruins at Ingapirca rather than take a tour from Cuenca.