"Hmmmm"

April 28, 2014
We left Cuenca early in hopes of getting to Alausi to ride the Nariz del Diablo train (11am), but we had such heavy traffic it was after noon by the time we arrived. We stopped for lunch in Alausi, instead. The drive there was breathtaking, from the beauty and the close calls. Passing slower traffic in Ecuador is an experience. It happens with regularity, and at the least opportune times... at least, it seemed that way. Eventually, I numbed relaxed a bit and started to simply let out a "hmmmmm" when I wasn't quite sure how the oncoming car was going to pass successfully. Everytime it worked out, but there was never a second to spare. As for the beauty, I'll let the photos speak for themselves, but they don't do the 360 degrees of gorgeousness justice.

Drive from Cuenca to Baños

Drive from Cuenca to Baños

Yes, livestock was leashed and would occasionally have enough slack to wander into the road.

Drive from Cuenca to Baños, yes, livestock are tied off on leashes on the roadside.

Drive from Cuenca to Baños

Drive from Cuenca to Baños

Drive from Cuenca to Baños

Drive from Cuenca to Baños

I don't recall the name of the restaurant we stopped for lunch but it was in the mainsquare it occupied the first space in the first building. It was small, with two tables outside and four inside. It was our first time have Almuerzos (lunch) is found in restuarants all over Ecuador. For $2.50, you get juice, soup, meat, rice or plantains and vegetables. The chicken soup here was very good, I also enjoyed the beets.

Almuerzos (lunch) is found in restuarants all over Ecuador. For $2.50, you get juice, soup, meat, rice or plantains and vegetables. This chicken soup was very good. Restaurant was in Alausi. This town is famous for the Nariz del Diablo train, we intended to ride it, but we experienced traffic delays and were unable to go.

Almuerzos second course is typically a protein, carb and vegetable.

We drove to Riobamba which was supposed to be our home for the night. But when we arrived in town, there was heavy construction and we choked on exhaust, which was off-putting. I booked our night's stay on Expedia at Hotel Glamour. Check in was a real shitshow, no one manned the desk and diners of the restaurant kept coming up and taking random keys which made me uncomfortable leaving our belongings in the room. After a lengthy wait, we were led up to a room, but it was dirty. Then, they found us one that was clean on the same floor. The room was very worn and the towels were threadbare.

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When we laid down to rest the bed was so uncomfortable. The walls were paper thin, we could hear people coming and going, the pipes sounded like the room would flood any second. After an hour, we were over it. So, we decided to see if the hotel we booked in Banos had availability, it did; we booked it. We returned our key and remote for the tv and we were gone. It was better to lose out on the $34 I prepaid, then stay put and be miserable all night long. I had only chosen the night in Riobamba because if we got on the Nariz del Diablo train, it wouldn've been too dark to continue on to Banos. The only sight I had jotted down in Riobamba was Chimborazo, an inactive volcano, and Ecuador's highest peak; it's also the highest peak on Earth in relation to the equator. However, it was cloaked in clouds so I never even got a photo of it.

We had less than two hours of daylight left to get to Banos, this made me a little nervous, our ETA was 1:20 so we figured it would work out. Little did we know that GPS led us on the "shorter" route, but it was off the main highway on mostly dirt roads and completely desolate. We actually wondered if everyone had been evacautated due to a volcanic eruption. This connector took us over a series of rickety bridges, I was nervous. This was the nicest of them all.

One of the nicer rickety bridges along the connector between Riobamba and Baños, on the backside of the Tungurahua volcano.

Did I mention I was nervous? So, much so I didn't take photos, I was too focused on the road and volcano ahead of us. Eventually, we did meet back up with the Pan Am Highway. I was so relieved! We were in Banos minutes later, just as the sun began to set.

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