Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Devil´s Nose

Traintop Passengers

This past Sunday I went on one of Ecuador´s most famous tourist attractions, the train ride down the valley of El Nariz del Diablo, the Devil´s Nose. The fun thing about this trip is that passengers are obliged to ride on top of the train. I got to the station at 5:30 AM to get a place, with two rented cushions to sit on. Luckily there are bars on top of the train, so you don´t slide off...although some passengers who arrived later wound up sitting on the cars without rails. The train left at 7 AM, and we spent the next 7 hours enjoying the countryside, waving at the farmers, women doing their washing in the river, and the many little kids who ran up to the train to wave at us and collect the lollipops and candies that some passengers threw down to them. The highlight of the ride is the trip down into the valley of the Nariz del Diablo, where the train descends in zigzags, and the tracks are switched to allow the train to go back and forth down the valley. The tracks were built early in the 20th century and sometimes the train felt that old, especially with its jolting starts and stops, causing the snack-and-drink vendors walking up and down on top of the train to grab onto the nearest passenger´s head to keep from falling.

Now I´m back in Quito, heading off to the rainforest this weekend, to check out the piranhas and monkeys, and I´ll be back in town in time for my dad´s arrival on Wednesday.