The Ecuador Chronicles - 2011-39
A Rainy Day in Riobamba - What Do You Do;
Well, Take the Bus to Guaranda and Back;
It is a Fascinating Ride
This week's Chronicle is from Ecuador Traveler, Lee Blackwell. Lee is most often exploring on his bicycle, but on a rainy he decides on a bus trip. Lee's Chronicle gives us his unique perspective, which I am sure you will enjoy.
Bus Ride from Riobamba to Guaranda and Back
Last night the rain moved in. I heard it pattering on the roof of the Hostal Oasis in Riobamba. I pulled the blankets a little higher and caught a few more winks. Not a good day for bicycling in so much rain so I decided to take the bus to Guaranda for a scenic ride.
In the bus station there are callers for different destinations as if you might change your mind on where you are going if a particular caller lures you to his route. Quito, Quito, Quito one shouts, another one is yelling Guayaquil Guayaquil! I want a bus to Guaranda but no one is calling for that and the lady behind the glass is busy sorting papers and does not sell tickets or answer questions. I go to another company and get a ticket quickly and in half an hour we are headed out through the traffic of Riobamba.
The road climbs out of the green forests, past all vegetation and in the harsh climate at 12,000 feet virtually nothing is growing. Through the mist I catch glimpses of the snowy sides of the 20,000 foot Volcano Chimborazo. The music is playing softly, always music on the bus, usually a fast beat song. The calm Ecuadorians come and go on the bus. Some dressed in traditional garb, some not, but often getting on or off in remote places where they hike through the mist to get home. The Ecuadorians seem kind of resigned to life as it comes and goes like the rains and mists. The beat of the music on the bus is steady but soft, setting the pace for the ride to wherever. Up one mountain and down the other, that´s Ecuador. It`s a steady kind of place, with no change of season and the same daylight 12 on 12 off year around and the people seem to reflect that. The volcanoes loom until a few thousand years go by and they blow, leaving another layer on the thousands of feet of layers.
The pass is higher than I expect but finally comes and then we descend to Guaranda, the forest rises up to meet us as we descend. In town I search out the town plaza. It is very well kept, an example of how a place could look but the rest of the town is a mishmash of concrete apartments and tiny stores selling everything.
A lady with no teeth tries to converse with me but with her missing teeth and my lack of understanding I eventually excuse myself. I`d been in Guaranda about an hour and a half, and saw a bus heading out, flagged it down, hopped on and got a front seat which gave me a great view on the hour and forty five minute ride back to Riobamba. The driver assistant came by to collect my 2 dollar fare. You can hop on and off moving busses just signal what you want, no worries.
The mists were even thicker and over a rise the bus jammed on the brakes to avoid a herd of brown Llamas. The driver did a few exciting passing moves where you wonder what could have happened on the blind curve. It is common for 3 or even 4 vehicles to use the 2 lane road. It´s amazing how much room there can be if everyone jams in at the same time. The bus barrels through town, there are kids, old ladies, dogs, obstacles, the bus barrels along tooting the horn moving by at a fast pace. It seems to work out. It`s all in God`s hands.
Outskirts of Riobamba
Bucket of Wild Mora Berries (South of Riobamba)
Slopes of Chimborazo
Plaza in Guaranda
View from Bus into the Fog on the Highway between Guaranda and Riobamba
Lee Blackwell the Author -
Preferring to Travel by Bicycle Except in Pouring Rain!
Lee, I really enjoy your descriptive writing style, and the pictures are great. I think Chronicle readers would like to have more from you. I would like to hear about your bicycling adventures in Ecuador.