We arrived to Riobamba
with the sole purpose of purchasing train tickets for the train from Riobamba down south to where the rail line ends. We were quite excited as train is our favorite form of travel. Unfortunately, when we got to the train station, the tickets for the next day´s train were sold out and we would have to take a bus from Riobamba to Alausi
where we could buy tickets to ride the train through the Devil´s Nose switchbacks and then back to Alausi. Bummer but we have no choice.
Riobamba was an alright town and we did what we do in any town, walk around, hang out in the plazas, and sample the local cuisine.
School bus on a rail
We went to sleep early as we had to be up by 6am to catch the bus to Alausi.
Apparantly we were not the only ones who didn´t get on the train but wanted to as the bus to Alausi was completely full of tourists. The rest of the morning was a headache because of the copious amounts of tourists, who were doing their best impersonation of rude Latin Americans. They were in the wrong seats on the bus and created a lot of confusion, they ran to the ticket office nearly knocking each other over, and waiting in a line for tickets was unheard of. It was every man for himself.
Because we´re awesome we were the first ones on the train and got the best two seats right in front. We wanted to sit on the roof but apparantly they don´t let people do that anymore because some Japanese tourists got decapitated up there while taking pictures (according to our Italian amigo Tommy).
Standing by the school bus
*Insert your ticket-to-hell remark here*. After a few minutes on the train, we realized we were not on a train at all but in a really old bus that had train wheels put on the bottom. Anyway we went on down the really old rickety tracks. We rode out of Alausi and then began to ascend down the side of a mountain. The scenery was really beautiful, you know, the Andes, they´ve got it going on. As we were sailing down, we noticed another train (i.e. old bus) was heading up the mountain... and there is only one track. So the conductor slammed on the breaks and told us all to get out and take pictures while his assistant ran down the tracks to stop the other car. A few minutes later the assistant of our train came back with the assistant of the other train and the guys on our train berrated him for about 10 minutes. That was probably the most entertaining part of the journey although his mess up was potentially very dangerous. We then completed a series of V-switchbacks which was impressive from an engineer perspective and which is partly why the train ride is so famous. After the switch back we stopped, got out to take pictures again, and then went up the same way we came. It was definitely a beautiful ride and pretty cool but we were a little bit dissapointed because the ride was about 45 minutes long, it was so hyped up, and we had to wrestle so many tourists all day long. Oh well, off to experience the Andes like it should be done, on foot.