- Encounters with locals
- Sustainable Tourism
- Off the beaten track
I made sure to be in Guamote on a Thursday in order to see the market but I was expecting to stay for several days.
As I was the only one staying at the inn none of the usual activities (visiting Chimborazo volcano, off road biking, etc.) were available. It was a bit of a shame, but instead it was suggested that I go with the volunteers from a local association who were touring the local schools to give them a show and some Christmas presents. Something a bit off the beaten path that would give me the chance to meet the locals!
That evening we celebrated Christmas at the village school. A (long) mass was followed by a great dance! The next day I walked along a railway line and across some fields in the area. For the moment the village was empty, but on Thursday, which was market day and the day the train came through, it would be heaving.
When I was in Ecuador, this train normally arrived in Guamote around 9:00 am. At these times the whole town would suddenly come to life. The tourists had about twenty minutes to wolf down an empanada (a kind of filled pastry turnover) and a white, corn-based drink. Or at least this is what the locals ate and drank. I enjoyed the turnover thing, but I wasn't really a fan of the beverage. I did quite like the colours at the station however. When you visit Ecuador, you really do feel like you're in the Andes: it has that typical traditional Andean feel.
The journey started to feel long to me after we left Guamote. Fortunately, however, my travelling companion passed the time telling me stories about Ecuador's cities; and I have do have to admit that the scenery was very nice. Especially notable were the areas of paramo we passed through (a kind of alpine tundra), and we also got to see some wonderful scenes of local everyday life. A lot of problems have since occurred with this train and changes have been made to the way it operates.