Monday, March 16, 2009


We were warned by a couple of people who live in the city that we might not like Riobamba on the grounds that it is too busy. Maybe for them, but for those of us used to living in Madrid it didn't seem very hard to take at all, although some streets have busy traffic. It's a provincial capital which doesn't have a great deal of interesting things to see, but which is not a disagreeable place to have to spend a couple of nights.

The town has something else in common with Madrid, apart from traffic; they have a parade to celebrate Reyes (Epiphany) on January 6th. In some ways, the parade in Riobamba is more interesting as it provides evidence of the strong indigenous presence in the town and surrounding province.

We had time during our stay to do an excursion outside of Riobamba and the place we chose was a town with the slightly unfortunate name of Guano. This small town is known for the carpets it produces, and you can even see some of them being made.

It seems to have become a theme of my trips in South America to find some place that has a connection of sorts with Barcelona football club. In Ecuador they have taken this connection a step further by having a club with the same name, and the carpet makers of Guano have done their bit for supporters of the club; it's not hard to see where they got their inspiration from.

The highlight of the trip to Guano, and I have to say that there wasn't much competition, is the mummified body of a Spanish friar held in the town museum. Dating from the early years of the Spanish presence, he's not a pretty sight; but for those like me who are fascinated by such things it's unmissable.

Back in Riobamba we walked up to a park from where you can get a feeling for the surroundings, which naturally include several volcanoes. This was our best view of the imposing Beast of Baños, Tungurahua.

Over to the side we captured images of another peak, El Altar, which is said to offer some spectacular mountain walking.

We had no time to do any of that, because we had a train to catch.

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