Devil´s Nose to Quenca

So we left Baños cos you can´t stay in Baños for the rest of your life (there was a sign saying as much when we first got to town).

So what does one do in that situation? I am not sure, but we two caught a bus to Riobumba, stayed the night and got up at 5.50 in the morning to catch a train.

The train is called the Nariz de Diablo, which means The  Devil´s Nose. I don´t know how they picked that name. Anyway it is a train that you can ride on the roof as it winds its way from Riobumba to Alausí in 7 hours. It is very cold when the train starts off (full of westies with their Lonely Planets in hand). Very cold..

Cold Train 1

Indeed, it is so cold Fionn was a little delirious…

Cold train 2

The train winds its way through some pretty impressive terrain. And all the scruffy country kids come out and wave to the train as it passes and we all buy lollipops from a guy on the train to throw to the kids.

There appear to be two schools of thought amongst the kids on how to deal with this.

1.The kids are very clever about it. They stand there and wave and ignore the lollipops that land near them (playing it cool), they just keep on waving to the train until the last carriage has passed (thus encouraging more lollipops to be thrown) then they scamble like crazy to collect all sweets in the vicinity.

2. The second school of thought seems to be to clutch, scramble and run for anything and everything in a frenzy of sugar lust. This theory is prevelant when one or more kids are together and therefore there is competition for the falling lollipops. (Namely, if you play it cool, encouraging more lollipops, you will most likely get none as those around you "lutch, scramble and run for anything and everything in a frenzy of sugar lust" as described above.

I wonder if a threory of economics could be based on this study?

Here is a pic from the roof of the train…


and one with us…


After the 7 hour train ride, was a 5 hour bus ride (it was a long day of travelling, from 7am to 7 pm) to the pretty city of Cuenca. Full of colonial architecture it is the perfect place for us to continue our "Park ´n Church" tour of Ecuador.

The "Park ´n Church" concept is that, in every Ecuadorian town there are a number of town squares that have a church on them. So, of course you have to visit everyone of them. We even went to one town (Ibarra) on a 50 minute bus ride just to taste their famous ice-cream (very nice and 80c for a bowl of 2 flavours). Of, course you can´t travel that far just for the ice-cream and there were about four town squares with churches in this little spot. So, we saw them all. Which was the launching of our great cry of this trip so far: not another "Park ´n Church".

It makes sense if you say it fast.

Here´s a picture of a park ´n church to help you get the drift…


Well, so far Cuenca has been good food (for $1.50) and I am finally getting a little bit of drinking in, what with martini night at the Eucalypt café and the bar strip we just located.

Things are going really well. I even found a group of local musicians to help me record the afro-cuban Family Mule album I´ve been thinking about for so long…


 Unfortunately, they all work at the museum and are made of wax.

 John and Fion (but mostly John)



That´s right, Baños, the town that shares its name with the toilet. Beautiful town really.

Actually, Baños is a very popular holiday destination for Ecuadorians and for international jetsetters with monolithic backpacks like ourselves.

The reason for this town´s fame is its natural hot spring baths (hence the name Baños, meaning bath).

The town is also set at the base of an active volcano that should go off some time soonish.

Whilst in Baños we hired bikes…

Banos Bike

While riding a cable car across a 100 metre fall…

cable car

To go and look at water falls…


Then finally came home to grab a four-wheeler to check the sites of Baños…

four wheel

Ah, Baños…same name as a toilet but the best restaurants in Ecuador (no kidding, the food was great).Except for when I ordered the lunch of the day…but that is another story that is not related to this picture of roasting guineapig…


I swear.

love john and fion (and thanks to simon who set up this blog for us)

Tena and Beyond

otosWell, we finally left Quito. In conversations with other travellers it became clear to us that Quito isn´t that nice and it was time to move on.

We had planned to go north to a town called Otavalo so that Fion could write her LP author sample.

However, nobody informed the indigenous people of Ecuador about this and they have spent the last week and a half in protests and road blocks about the signing of an Ecuador/US free trade agreement (which sounds ludicrous except for the Ecuadorian oil interests).

So, we went west instead. Into the jungle. Well, near the jungle…no, it was the jungle, the edges of the dark and mysterious Amazon. Well, the edges aren´t dark, their kind of deep green. anyhoo…you´ve heard all of this before.

Quito, Ecuador

The couple of days before we arrived I started reading the Dangers & Annoyances section of LP guide and got myself a little freaked out. Robberies, armed holdups… Read the rest of this entry »

Valparaiso, Chile

Port at ValparaisoNext we jumped on the bus to Valparaiso, hilly port town extraordinaire. More funkiness and bus drivers who like to beep the horn. We stayed right up in the hills and rode funiculars up and down as we wandered around. We could have stayed longer here and in Santiago and thought about changing our tix, but alas it didn´t happen and now here we are in Quito.

Santiago, Chile

So about a week and a half down and it feels like much longer..what´s that work thing again?? Our flight was fine, but when we got to the hotel in early afternoon we had to sleep and sleep. Jetlagged we was. Did lots of walking around in Santiago, which has some funky pockets. Through one of these ~ Bellevista ~ is one of the main city parks and we rode a funicular and then took a cable car – think little egg-shaped number hanging way over the parkland – right into the heights of the park and came across the most amazing, huge public swimming pool. It was like a true oasis and totally drool-worthy. We had not brought togs. Doh. Next day we checked out another pleasant spot of the city but all that was really on our minds was getting back to the pool (was hot in Chile). when we did, it was closed, but instead we were directed to another one even higher up the hill. It was just as big and beautiful. Conclusion: Chileans do good pools.And pisco sours. Zing! They good. Of course john always wanted another one. since when did I become the sensible drinker? After one night of beers and a couple of pisco sours we had a quick little kiss in the street and as we finished (it wasn´t long ok, gosh) a cheer went up from across the street. It was a bunch of school girls standing in the entrance to a block of flats. I´m pretty sure one cried out ´vive amor´!! After we recovered from the shock we pissed ourselves silly.