Travel fail: Stuck in Alausi for no reason

Today was a big travel fail.


My original plan was to try to get from Tena to Mindo, all in one day. Instead, in a serious travel fail, I’m spending the night in Alausi — way, way away from where I want to be — for no reason.


This was where I thought I'd be tonight if it weren't for my travel fail
This was where I thought I’d be tonight


The problems began first thing this morning. I got on a bus taking the wrong road to Quito. That immediately eliminated the possibility of getting all the way to Mindo, since now it was going to take me 7 hours just to get to Quito.


So, change of plans. This new bus was going near Riobamba, which I was vaguely curious about. So I figured I’d just break up the trip there and head to Mindo tomorrow. As the bus headed toward Riobamba, I started reading enough about it in my travel guide to be looking forward to it.


When a convention takes over Riobamba and takes over all the hotels.


I got to Riobamba — a slightly sticky, big city — around noon. I walked the half hour into the center of town.


That’s when I learned that there’s a convention in town. All hotels were full. Travel fail #1.


It was late enough in the day that I knew I didn’t have many options. I could try to get to Quito — I’d probably arrive around 7 and have to find somewhere to stay. I could head back to Baños — which seemed appealing, but it would mean backtracking and giving myself a longer trip tomorrow. What I really should have done was head to Latacunga. But I was upset about wasting a day of my trip, so I didn’t even take that option seriously.

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I was pretty frustrated at this point and I just wanted to be somewhere to stay. Instead of going straight to the bus station, I walked another 15 minutes out of the way to a Mexican restaurant to get a burrito. I sat wallowing in rage for an hour. This is the part of traveling I don’t miss.


Then, I decided to head to Alausi — the starting point for the Nariz del Diablo train. So I hopped on a bus for another two hours. For a total of seven hours today.


When your luck doesn’t get better


Alausi is actually adorable. It’s built into a hillside and it’s very colonial. It’s constantly shrouded in mist. When I arrived, I thought, “Okay, things are looking up.”


The entire town is basically three streets, so I wandered around for an hour and a half taking pictures of stuff. There isn’t much tourist infrastructure here (aside from a collection of typical off-the-beat-en-track shitty hotels, one of which I am in for the night), so I couldn’t find a place for food. I had a Magnum bar for dinner.


Then, I went to try to buy my train tickets. And I learned that they were all sold out.


This depressing town is where I actually am
This depressing town is where I actually am


So here I am, in this far-flung, remote Ecuadoran town with no restaurants, an extra several hours away from anywhere I am trying to go, with nothing to do and no point to being here. Epic travel fail.


Y’all, sometimes traveling really sucks.


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[…] The Nariz del Diablo train journey is among the most scenic in the world. It departs from Alausi. Just don’t do what I did and arrive too late to book a ticket. […]

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