200 days abroad and a crap day out

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Saturday, April 14, 2012

I have been away for 200 days.  I just thought I would share that with you.  We're on the move early to try and make 'La Nariz del Diablo' train journey, which we've heard is pretty spectacular.  It means rising for 5am, and bussing it to the station town of Alausi.  Since we both haven't had a great deal of sleep, we're spark out as soon as we board, so much so the driver has to wake us when we reach our destination.  We step off the bus into blazing morning sun and wander down the one main street to purchase train tickets, of which there are none, because they've sold out.  Paddy is raging as he could have gone out last night and hooked up with a local girl, which probably wouldn't of happened.

We're encouraged to wait around in case something becomes available, so we spend the next couple of hours wandering the small and unremarkable little town.  It's quaint to say the least, and pretty much revolves around the train station and tourist dollars as a result.  The next (and only) train is at 11am.  Once again the Lonely Planet cocks it up, but perhaps they just canceled the 9am journey today.  Either way there was no need to get up so early.

Our luck is in and we manage to squeeze two tickets.  It doesn't take too long before we wish we hadn't.  As this was my decision to do the trip, Paddy isn't going to let it go lightly and will continue to lambast me for it.  I've never written anything for trip advisor, thinking that people should just find out for themselves what something is like.  Even a bad experience is still and experience, and one mans dream is another nightmare.  This was more of a nightmare.

Admittedly the scenery is nice, but it's nothing you won't already have seen from a bus window in Colombia and Ecuador so far.  What makes it nearly unbearable and smacking of utter tedium, is the blatant tourist trap that it is.  I feel dirty.  The seats are filled up with loud French and Americans, with screaming children and massive cameras they have no idea how to use.  I thought it was simply a train that goes from A to B via beautiful scenery.  It's a round trip with the express purpose of seeing how many dollars they can con out of you, and at twenty bucks for the privilege, they're doing pretty well.  By contrast a 5 hour bus journey costs just four, so this should be a buck and a half.  They are laughing all the way to the bank.

We pull into what appears to be a brand new train station.  Upon arrival and on cue "native" people begin dancing a "traditional" dance.  It's basically a load of folk in Ecuadorian dress doing the four step.  Badly.  The tourists suck it up, shutters clicking and audible gasps of wonder.  We're ferried in for a plastic ham sandwich and horrible coffee in a polystyrene cup, then given an hour to look around a terrible museum with not much in it.  We're keeping ourselves amused at the sheer audacity of the operation.  By the look of the extensive work going on, within a few years this place will be like Blackpool, complete with ferris wheel and crap sweets wrapped in a bag with an Ecuadorian flag slapped on it.  Please stay away, unless you're an easily duped fat American with a Cannon DSLR and a hole in your wallet.

I'm out cold for the trip to Cuenca.  The sunburn on my back has been keeping me awake, so I clearly needed the sleep.  I miss some cracking scenery too by Paddy's account, but at least I feel refreshed when we step off the bus in less time than anticipated.  I make my second bad decision and choose to stay in El Cafecito hostel, which is rammed with hipsters.  The great unwashed, complete with "ethnic" woven clothing, friendship beads and bracelets, half shaved heads, dreadlocks and bongos.  Go and get a shower, pack in your dope smoking, Bob Marley was shit.

We make our escape into town and have an entertaining if somewhat unsuccessful night.  Paddy is dancing like an idiot with a pretty German girl which not surprisingly ensures a swift rejection.  I'm wandering the club looking for 'the one' and before I know it the lights are on, it's all over and I've missed the opportunity.  I grab the hottest girl I can see, pull her aside and talk at her for ten minutes, explaining all the different parts of the kilt, with her not really understanding English.  I'm royally cock-blocked by a friend of hers who sits in front of us and wants to practice his grasp of my language.  The bill comes to $80, Paddy loses his best shirt, we walk home alone.  It's safe to say that yesterday was a hell of a lot better.
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josiejojo on

I also really wanted to this train journey, thanks for the heads up Stu, won't be bothering now. :D

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