Friday, October 23, 2015

Ice Caps On The Equator As We Head To Riobamba.....

On Wednesday we headed over to the city of Riobamba, the largest city in the central region of the Sierras. Located in the center of the country Riobamba is overlooked by Chimborazo, an inactive volcano topped with layers of glacial ice.

The bus trip there provided some amazing scenery as we passed by lush, green farmland that climbed high up into the blue sky.  Majestic mountains in the distance were topped off with puffy clouds that paled in comparison to the highest peak of Chimborazo.  Along the route we noticed a huge plume of smoke coming from a volcano in the distance.

Whenever a bus stops to pick up passengers it also picks up vendors selling everything from candy to baked goods, drinks, chips and more. On this particular trip Clyde bought a loaf of "ca de banano" a combo of English and Spanish words for "banana cake." It was a thin loaf of banana bread still piping hot out of the oven for $1.  We snacked on the yummy delight as we watched the beautiful scenery passing by outside the window.

Banana Cake....Somewhat Eaten Already

We arrived in the city around lunch time and quickly found our way to a small restaurant packed with locals.  Clyde asked the waiter what the "menu of the day" was and he explained.  "Chicken soup, meat lasagna with salad, rice and fresh juice for $2.25 each."  It was a lot of food for a tiny price and we both enjoyed our cheap but adequate lunch. While I'm not a fan of white rice at least here there's a local version of spicy salsa on the table to flavor it with.

Our $2.25 Lunch Started With Soup

Then Meat Lasagna, White Rice, Salad And Juice

Friendly  Clyde hailed a taxi and asked the driver what his favorite part of the city was and then asked him to take us there.  The driver agreed and off we went to explore yet another city in Ecuador. We drove through the "centro historico" or central historic part of the city before heading up to a higher elevation. Our driver Luis took us through small pueblos or villages that sat perched high in the mountains.  While the land seemed dry and barren there were crops being farmed nearby.  Luis explained that they grew ornamental plants and strawberries which they sold to help support themselves.  He stopped the car at a lookout point that gave us a spectacular view of Chimborazo in all of its glory.

Historic Central Part Of Town

Church Near A Park

Street Vendors

Another Church

Huge Market

Quaint Houses

Pretty Water Fountain

Sign For Halloween Party Suggesting Sexy Costumes & Lingerie
Too Bad We Won't Be In Riobamba That Day

At an elevation of over 20,000 feet it's the highest mountain in Ecuador and the Andes north of Peru.  Although Mount Everest reaches higher in elevation, Chimborazo is said to have the furthest point from the surface of the earth's center.  Because the earth is thicker around its mid-section which is the equator, and Chimborazo sits just one degree south of the equator, it has that claim to fame. 

Mount Chimborazo

Another View With Surrounding Vistas

The top of Chimborazo is completely covered by glacial ice which serves as a source of water for both the Riobamba and Bolivar provinces.  As on other glacial mountains in the country, Chimborazo's ice is mined by locals who call themselves, "hieleros" which comes from "hielo" the word for ice in Spanish. The ice is brought down the mountain and sold in local markets around the area. 

More Views From The Top

A Church In The Pueblo

Saw This Guy On The Roadside....Clyde And
The Taxi Driver Were A Bit Jealous At The Size Of His Attributes


Our driver deposited us in the central historico part of the city where we took in a museum of culture.  While entry to the museum was free we had to be accompanied by a Spanish speaking guide who explained the exhibits to us.  As always it was good practice for us as it forced us to listen to Spanish being spoken, and figure out what was being said.

These Pots Were Filled With Water & Heated Then Laid On For Neck Pain

Ancient Molds

Representative Of The People From One Indigenous Tribe

Chair Made From Cement

Pretty Pottery

A Tomb With A King's Body And Trinkets

Mosaic Outside Of Museum
After the museum we were feeling hungry.  Spotted this guy asleep along his candy cart but decided not to chance it.  We didn't want to end up in jail in Riobamba!   We spotted a pastry shop with coffee and took a break before our ride home.   Had an interesting desert which was a combination of cake and a passion fruit mousse.
A Vendor Selling Candy Is Catching A Nap

Local Bakery & Cake Shop Where We Stopped For Coffee

And Coffee Needs Cake But We Shared This One
Piece Of Passion Fruit Mousse Cake

Pizza Maker Poses For Photo

He And His Wife Pose With His Masterpiece Pie 

We made our way back to the bus station for our trip back to Ambato.  Since we arrived around dinner time we stopped at an open air pizza joint near the bus station. For just $1.25 per slice which included a drink, we enjoyed some salami and ham pizza for dinner.  The owner of the restaurant spoke decent English, one of the few locals we've met here who did. Another amazing day of volcanos, ice cap peaked and new experiences in Riobamba, Ecuador.......along the gringo trail.

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