Archive for February, 2011

Dia a Dia: El Tren de los Sueños

Following is a link to the show that aired on Dia a Dia on Sunday, February 13. The crew joined me on a ride down the Devil’s Nose and then we traveled to Huigra to talk about the cemetery. The show also covers the history of the construction, as well as the impact of the rehabilitation effort on Nizag, the local indigenous community.

See the show!

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La Television: El regreso del Ferrocarril y su Historia

Following is a link to the show that aired on La Television on Sunday, February 13. This follows our team’s travels last September. A second part will air in the next few weeks following the photography and more history.

See the show!

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Railroad in the Sky…in the News!

Tonight, two major Ecuadorian news shows, La Television and Dia a Dia, will be airing stories about the railroad and our projects.

Last September, La Television followed us for three days as we excavated the cemetery, rode on the renovated rails, and gave speeches at a reception in Quito. Tonight will be the first of a two-part story following us and the history of the train. On Friday I was in the studio for an extended interview and saw a cut of the show. You won’t want to miss it!

A week ago, Dia a Dia joined Rodrigo and me as we rode down the Devil’s Nose on the newly opened portion of the railroad. We also drove down to Huigra, where we checked in on the cemetery and talked about where our projects are going in the next six months.

If you are in Ecuador, be sure to check them out. If not, I will try to post them here once they have aired. In the meantime, here is a promo for the upcoming Dia a Dia.


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Video: Trenzas de Paja

Trenza, simply translated, means braid. Paja, slang aside (more on that here), means hay. In this video, I follow Rodrigo´s workers as they create trenzas de paja, which they will string over their new thatch roof to help prevent wind damage. The benefits of this building method are twofold; it is both ecologically sound, being made of the same locally grown plants as the roof, and it is a decorative finishing touch for what will soon be a home. By the end of the process, a 25 meter rope has been spun from nothing more than a loose pile of hay.



Quick note: You´ll notice that there are actually two languages being spoken in this video. You may recognize the Spanish, but the other one is Quichua, a language that you´ll hear frequently within the Andean indigenous communities.

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Farewell, Urbina Station House

After 22 years under his operation, Rodrigo has to return the Urbina station house to the railroad company. The government is reclaiming it for the railway rehabilitation program, in which they will renovate it along with all the other stations. By the end of Jan. 30, he had to have the entire property cleared out.

Rodrigo caries items to his house across the railroad tracks.

Rodrigo caries items to his house across the railroad tracks.

The Urbina station house is unique in that, under Rodrigo’s management, it has been the only station under regular operation in the last 14 years. Here he has housed travelers, provided employment for his team of workers, given workshops on mountain climbing and railroad history, and sold local crafts. It has been a mainstay of Rodrigo’s business for over two decades.

Urbina station house has been a big part of Rodrigo's business for over two decades.

Urbina station house has been a big part of Rodrigo's business for over two decades.

Items that have accumulated over 22 years.

Items that have accumulated over 22 years.

When he originally started running the house, it didn’t even have a bathroom. Rodrigo and his workers installed an addition in the back with toilets, showers and hot water. On the way out, he is now reclaiming the raw materials to use on other projects, including toilets, faucets, and even drywall.

It takes a team of workers to dismantle the bathroom.

It takes a team of workers to dismantle the bathroom.

The drywall is removed from the ceiling.

The drywall is removed from the ceiling.

By the end of the day, the house is empty. Once the renovation is complete, Rodrigo hopes to get the station house back under a new business plan. He would like to run it as a coop, sharing an equal stake with his workers. There is no guarantee, though, that he will be able to regain the property. We’ve been very lucky to be able to stay at the station house on a few occasions and we hope that one day we will be able to return.

Come the end of the day, the house is empty.

Come the end of the day, the house is empty.

Of course, Rodrigo always finds a way to make light of any situation…and this is no exception. Much to his llama’s chagrin, he poses for one last picture.

Rodrigo still finds a way to have fun.

Rodrigo still finds a way to have fun.

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