Photographer's Note

This photo was taken from the roof of a cargo carriage on the "Devil's Nose Railway".

The "Devil's Nose Railway" originally ran between Quito and Guayaquil (on the south-west coast) and construction started in 1899. It was dubbed "The Most Difficult Railwayline In The World" due to the impossible terrain that the railway had to pass over and construction was finally completed 66 years later in 1965. The line starts in Quito at 2,850m (9,100ft) and finishes in Guayaquil at sea-level. On the way it passes over a high point of 3,600m (10,500ft) and also has to negotiate a near vertical cliff face called "The Devil's Nose" inwhich the only solution to getting up and down seemed to be by creating a series of 'switch-backs' carved out of the cliff face and allowing the train to zig-zag it's way backwards and forwards from top to bottom or vice versa. In 1998 the Pacific tropical storm "El Nino" destroyed much of the railway and lack of funding has prevented it from ever being rebuilt, however a section of the line from Riobamba to just after the "Devil's Nose" cliff face was not destroyed and so the train operates today, 3 times a week, on this section only and mainly takes tourists back and forth to experience this amazing feat of engineering.

Nearly everyone sits on the roof for the best views and within minutes of leaving Riobamba vendors are squeezing between the bodies and making their way down the length of the train selling snacks and sweets and drinks. Amongst their wares are big bags of lollipops. "Para los ninos!" (For the kids!) we are told by one vendor. Later, it becomes apparent which kids he is on about as we start to pass isolated, run-down shacks in the middle of nowhere. Scuffy kids peer out from doorways as the train trundles past. These families look so poor. The shacks that they live in we wouldn't even keep animals in back home in England for fear of a visit from the RSPCA (animal welfare society). Most have no electricity or running water and if it wasn't for the passing train I'm sure most of these kids wouldn't see another person outside of their immediate families for months at a time.

At the sight of the train many of the kids venture out from the gloomy doorways and chase after us waving and smiling. I'd say atleast 75 percent of the food and drink bought from the vendors ends up in the arms of these kids and it had to be the highlight of the trip for me to see these childrens faces light up as they catch a lollipop thrown from the train. The parents would wave and shout "Gracias!" when their children returned to show off their catch.

But is this a good thing? I just hope that these children will not all have rotten teeth when they grow up because of the sweets because I don't think many of them will ever be able to afford to visit the dentist.

This photo was cropped a little to improve the composition and the frame was added in Photoshop, otherwise unchanged.

I have added a workshop photo to show the train and all the tourists sitting on the roof.



dino94, Greg1949, PARDAL has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Richard Mayneord (richwm) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 126 W: 33 N: 282] (1215)
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