Yesterday we made our way North to Riobamba. I could make up all sorts of fun facts about this city, but honestly, I didn't bother to learn anything about it. The only reason I was interested in going was to ride the Nariz del Diablo. This used to be a real train route, but now is open purely for silly tourists like me. It's a four hour ride through the Sierra, ending with a descent through terrifying switchbacks that are so steep and tight that the train often needs to back up to go around them. So you ride on the roof and try not to throw up. Good times! Apparently (mom, please skip to the next paragraph) a couple of tourists were stupid and stood up, getting themselves decapitated by a telephone pole a few years ago.
We arrived in Riobamba and went dirrectly to the train station to buy our tickets. But the train is closed for repairs! We can't wait around for it to be fixed, so no train for us :)
The only thing I can tell you about Riobamba is that we rented rooms that made me realize just how disguisting our previous place in Cuenca was. Slimey bathroom, kitchen of the rising smells, doors that don't lock properly, lights that don't light properly. All for the low low price of $6. In Riobamba we splurged and doubled the price. So for $12 I got a really nice private room with soft sheets, a cozy blanket with a deer motif, a vanity, tv with English channels, and a private bathroom that came with it's own toilet paper and soap! Heaven! I didn't want to leave.
But, leave we had to. Nathan wanted to go track down this bird that his friend Cory swore she saw. So we bused an hour out into the middle of nowhere, and started to follow some half-assed directions that did not fit at all with our landscape. It said to follow a dirt road up the hill with llamas but no sheep. There were several hills, one dirt road that didn't go up a hill, several sheep and no llamas. At 3800 feet it was cold and super windy, and we couldn't travel at more than a slow walk without getting out of breath.
I can't pretend to know about birds, but this one seemed important because Nathan boldly led us up a steep hill with no path, and grass that came up to our waists. This provided many opportunities to trip and stumble as we pushed our way through the thick grasses, and I managed to fall and hurt my ankle. Twice. Once per ankle, just to be fair. So limping down the hill was fun. But we did get a pretty-if-clouldy view of a volcano (possibly volcan Sangay).
I also managed to lose my lens thingy...you know...that thing that screws in around your lens and protects it from the sun. Not the lens cap, the other thing. Anway, ten minutes up our hike I noticed it was missing, but couldn't say when I'd seen it last. When we finally descended this death trap, there it was, sitting in the middle of the road, magically not run over.
Two buses later, we arrived in Baños. But more on that later.
PS - no, Nathan did not get to see his bird.