I had my Nariz del Diablo (Devil's nose) train ride booked for 8:00am this morning. I managed to squeeze in a quick breakfast at the hotel
- just some eggs, before heading to the train station.
I'd read that sitting on the right hand side of the train was better than the left for the views, so I made sure I had a good seat. I boarded the carriage which was very modern. The seats were individual padded seats , four on the right hand side around a table and two on the left hand side. I was sat opposite an Ecuadorean father and daughter who were very friendly.
The train headed through the valley. It was gradually going downhill and as it went we got a running commentary in Spanish and English from the guide on board. The views were beautiful as we followed the snaking river in the valley below. There was a very steep edge next to the train track and I can see why there were so many deaths when it was built - it's a long way to fall. We then reached the Devil's nose, the famous switchbacks (zigzags) that allow the train to travel down the side of a steep hill to the very bottom of the valley. I thought there would be more, but actually there were only 2 switchbacks/3 arms to the zigzags. So, the train travels down one zig, a bit past the join with the next zag, then the driver switches the tracks and the train reverses down the next zag, goes a bit past the corner, tracks are switched and the train continues forward down the final zig. We were stopping at the train station at the base, Simbabe, but first the train travelled past it so we could get a view back at the Devil's nose mountain and take photos. The name Devil's nose has many origins, no one is really sure of the true one. Some people think that because so many people died, 2500 mainly jamaican slaves, during the construction the Devil did not want the train to be built. People also say they have seen visions of the devil on the mountain.
Once at the station we were given a free sandwich, humita (steamed corn snack) or slice of cake and a cold or hot drink. We had an hour to relax there and I watched the traditional dancers performing on the train platform and also walked up to a small museum about the making of the trainline.
When it was time to board again we returned to Alausi station more quickly and with no commentary this time. Wrevere back by 10:30am, so a 2.5hr round trip. The experience was very enjoyable. It's not for thrill seekers, maybe it used to be, when you were able to ride on the roof of the train. You used to be able to hire a cushion and sit on the top but two Japanese tourists fell to their deaths so now it's banned.
I went for an early lunch in the same Mexican restaurant as last night with the American couple I met on the bus the day before, then it was time to check out and start making my way to the town of Baños. I caught a bus from Alausi to Riobamba - 2 hr journey which cost me $1.90. I jumped on the bus a few minutes before it left and managed to get one of the last seats. Once in Riobamba I caught a taxi across town to the bus terminal for the Oriente (rainforest region of Ecuador) and from there I caught another two hour bus to Baños. The town is quite small so when I arrived I managed to walk to my hostel and check in to my 4 bed female dorm easily.
I was absolutely starving so I went out for an early dinner. I checked my email and Jacyln (girl I met in Guayaquil) was in Baños and asked if I wanted to do some activities with her over the next couple of days. She came to the restaurant for dinner and we enjoyed a couple of glasses of malbec wine and made plans for the following day.