Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
In many parts we followed the line which is cut out of the mountainsides and winds its
course up and down. Here and there rains and landslides had made nasty gaps which, some
day, will have to be repaired. Where the sleepers had been put down, the horses had to walk
very slowly and measure every stride, but thanks to many similar experiences they had be-
comequiteexpertatpickingtheirway,eveninthemostdifficultplaces.Victor,whohadnever
seen a railway before, became more and more excited as we approached the Guayaquil line,
where I told him he would actually see an engine and a train.
Every evening when I made notes in my diary, he would always be near to watch me per-
form this, to him, marvellous feat. I had taught him to know the numbers up to nine and had
also succeeded in teaching him part of the A B C.
When our path along the line came to a tunnel the boy thought we had reached the end of
theworld.Ittookmesometimetoexplaintohimwhatitwas,andnolittlepersuasiontomake
himfollowmeintoitsdarkness.Whenwecameoutattheothersidetheboy'sjoyandsurprise
knew no bounds, and he begged of me to wait a little to give him time to run back to the other
side once more. That night, when we were lying on the floor of a dirty posada (inn), where
thereweremorefleasthantherearestarsintheMilkyWay,theboysuddenlybrokethesilence
and said he knew what the cueva (cave) was for. I had no idea what cave he was referring to
until he told me that the cave must be the inn where the trains and passengers slept.
About nine o'clock one morning, as I looked down across a wonderful valley with dark-
greentropicalvegetation,IsawthelineoftheGuayaquil-Quitorailroad.Notlongafteratrain
came steaming slowly uphill, appearing like a miniature in the distance. Victor looked at it,
then at me, but never said a word. His dream of many days and nights had come true, his one
wish was fulfilled: he was actually seeing a real train!
After a few hours, always on a down grade, we arrived where the two lines meet. Here
the valley forms a cul-de-sac and the Quito line zig-zags up the famous 'Nariz del Diablo'
(Devil's nose), indeed a fine piece of engineering. Here the trains are taken up a formidable
mountainside. There being no trail beyond this point, I had to lead my horses along the rail-
road track itself. An accident here almost finished our journey.
Without warning, a locomotive suddenly appeared. Quickly I hurried the terrified boy and
horses along, and was lucky in finding an open space beside the track a few seconds before
the engine roared past. The animals took but little notice of it, the grass that grew where they
stood attracting their attention far more. Victor took good care to hide behind them; obviously
he had not expected that an engine was so big and could make such a noise, but later, when
the engine appeared at a zig-zag below us and blew the whistle, he fairly jumped with delight.
At the foot of this mountain one steams in the hot and humid climate of the tropics, but on
reaching a village at the top it is delightfully dry and cool.
Saint Peter's day was being celebrated when we arrived there and rockets were fired all
daylong.Twobandswereplayingear-piercingandheart-rendingmusic,andnaturallyalcohol
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