Mike succumbed to traveller's trots and seemed to think closing the bathroom door at 2 am was unnecessary. Thanks. Oil of oregano has worked it's magic and he's feeling much better.
Unfortunately several other hotel guests didn't get the memo that WE don't have to get up early and made quite a racket. Oh well. I got some scrabble games in :)
We took a bus to Rhiobamba where we switched buses to Alausi. Alausi is a small village nestled in a valley. The views as we approached it were amazing but impossible to photograph from a bus. The disadvantage to public transport is they don't stop for photo ops. Bummer.
Many of the people in Alausi wear traditional clothing but really dislike having their photo taken so I did a lot of “shooting from the hip” and hoped a few of them turn out. The restaurants in town don't cater to tourists and you basically get what they happen to cook that day. Coffee is prepared by heating milk and you add instant coffee to it. It's not bad.
The “Devil's Nose” train takes you from the top to the bottom of a mountain using switch backs. It was originally created to transport material up and down the easiest way possible. The blasting and construction involved in creating it scared away all the condors and killed many people. Now it's basically a tourist attraction. About 6 months ago it got a total upgrade so the train is very comfortable and pretty but the windows don't open and you can no longer climb on top so it's next to impossible to get decent photos of the gorgeous scenery. At the bottom of the mountain we got off the train to dance with the locals, have a snack and take some goofy pictures.
Back up the mountain and in the village we did a walk about and attempted to find a bank machine that would give us money as nobody takes credit cards. We met with the others and discussed dinner options. Some opted for spaghetti but Susan, Cindy, Mike and I decided on some good old greasy food. We sat down and the lady brought us each a plate with a big hunk of deep fried chicken and fresh cut fries. The others opted for a giant beer and I asked for water. She brought me a glass. Uh oh. I tried asking where it came from and she pointed to a water jug. Phew. The total bill for the 4 of us was $11.75. Giovanny walked in and we convinced him to join us in our decadence.
Thursday, February 21
After a great night's sleep, I turned on the shower. No water. So I waited and eventually it came. It never did get very warm though so it was very quick. We went to find some breakfast. We sat and the only choice was how do you want your eggs. I couldn't remember scrambled in Spansih but she understood my gestures. Frito is easy..
The bus ride to Guayaquil is again, incredibly scenic. Mountains and beautiful valleys are everywhere with rivers winding through rich farmland worked manually by people in traditional dress. We saw one tractor. They farm very steep grades so tractors aren't practical. Taking a photo is impossible as this guy is a crazy driver. The road winds with sharp turns and steep grades, goes up into the clouds, then down to the valleys and back up again.
The heat arrived as soon as we got out of the mountains. Apparently taxis in Guayaquil don't like groups of people with bags. They can make more money from individual fares so Giovanny arranged for 3 pick up trucks to pick us up and we rode in the back with our luggage to the hotel.
We walked to the waterfront, had dinner, went to a park with lots of iguanas, met John and Christine and went for ice cream. Then it started pouring so we hailed a taxi to take us back to the hotel. After having coffee with them we headed to our room to find we'd missed a skype call from Ariel. Bummer.
I'll be glad to leave here tomorrow morning. I'm not a city lover.