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This morning was another early start, departure at 645.  But we were rewarded with some amazing views.

The volcano above is the Chimborazo, the same one Balthazar mines his ice.

The Black Monster is what the indigenous people called the steam train.  It could haul more than they could imagine and the steam and the whistle meant it was hungry.

It did serve us well today.  

We visited an indigenous market in Guamote and wandered around.  Definitely not a tourist trap.  Real local commerce was going on.  People weren’t too thrilled with us being there, and occasionally pushed us out of their way so they could transact their business.  We were warned that the locals don’t like their pictures taken, so we had to take candids.  

Due to this week’s landslides, we got to travel down then back up The Devil’s Nose.  Nariz de Diablo (Devil’s Nose)  is where the train drops 200 meters in 3 kilometers as it zig-zags down the mountain.  It is called the world’s most difficult stretch of track.   Finished in 1908 where thousands of Jamaican slaves died.  Nobody taught them how to use dynamite!
The train tracks below are part of the switchback. 

This is shot from the bottom looking up.  The road looking things in the mountain are train track traveling in one direction even though it looks like multiple paths.  

Looking down as we went down..

Our plans had to be modified because of the rains.  Landslides have taken out parts of the track and road.  We are totally safe but the schedule has had to be moved around a bit.  But the bonus was normally you only go one way up or down the Devil’s Nose.  Because of the track damage below where we went, we retraced our steps back up.  I have to say TrenEcuador has outdone themselves in making alternate arrangements.  Bad things happen but it is the mark of a good company that can accommodate and not make us feel like we are losing out on anything.  Kudos to them.  We met the CEO as she had come out to inspect.  Very personable and you can tell the culture of the company is customer focused.  We saw that across all the staff. 

We came back up hill to sleep in Riobamba at 11,300 feet above sea level.  That’s down 500 from last night.  We are still closer to the sun than the summit of Everest!  That’s due to the bulge at the Earth’s equator, where we are.  We are 6000′ closer.  Hard to believe but true.

Beautiful valley around the Devil’s Nose.

Tomorrow we bus around the landslide and pick up a different train to visit a cocoa plantation and make the coast where our train portion of the trip will end.

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