Estacion Urbina is an old, small train station that sits in the grassy plains below Chimborazo at 11,870 feet. Later this year (2006), it will turn 100 years old. Originally, it was used by trains as they transported materials and goods. Later it just transported tourists but this had stopped five years earlier due to the condition of the track. The proprietor, Rodrigo Donoso, has taken care of it (essentially re-building it) for the last 18 years. It is now only used as a guest house for tourists coming in by vehicle. It sits in the wide-open spaces of some lush and fertile farm land with Chimborazo literally it its backyard.

On our way down the Pan-American highway, we saw this grey ash cloud. We believe it was a "fresh" ejection from the volcano Tungurahua. After the Chimborazo climb, we would be heading to the town of Banos which sits in a valley below this volcano.

The front of the station. The tracks aren't visible but are just in front of the building behind the grassy knoll.

The back of the station. The guest rooms were primarily upstairs.

Looking out from the front of the station

They keep some llamas (and I think some alpacas) around. The hut in the back is a typical residence that many of the local indigenous people live in (compacted mud walls and thatched roofs). Rodrigo built them (there are 2 now) in an attempt to show people the typical lifestyle of these local Ecuadorian farmers.

My new puppy friend. He was so cute and friendly. Rodrigo mentioned that he showed up at his place a few weeks prior but his neighbors are upset because the pup gets into their chicken pens and.....

I couldn't escape his need to play

I think this one is an alpaca

A llama?

The dining area where we had some clothes drying out

Eva and Andy

From the dining area looking out front

Rodrigo gave us a tour of his indigenous huts

This woman worked with Rodrigo

This is a branch containing Tagua nuts, which come from the lower Amazon basin area. The smaller piece at the bottom right was broken off from the larger bunch on the branch. The nut itself (the one on the bottom left) is obtained from peeling away the outer layers. That nut can then be sculpted into different shapes (buttons, animals, etc) that will then be sold. The end product is a shiney, "buffed" white item. The white thing sitting in the middle is a small container with a lid that the guy in the next picture made while we watched.

I didn't want to get to close because I hear that they spit

Having dinner
(l to r) Marcelo (our van driver), me, Andy, Diana, Joey, Jim

This was the clearest that we were able to see Chimborazo that afternoon. I had commented to Joey that the snowline looked very high and "thin".

The next morning we could see that it had snowed heavily on the mountain

To the right of Chimborazo (10 km to the NE of it) is the volcano Carihuairazo (16,470 ft), the sister mountain of Chimborazo.

Picture of me with Rodrigo just before leaving