RUE Episode 32: Tourist Trains – Train to the Clouds, and more

The Train to the Clouds and other Tourist Trains take passengers to some incredible places on memorable journeys.  Tourist trains are not about “getting somewhere.”  They’re about the journey.  They’re about the experience, the ride.  In this episode, we take viewers on a journey to the clouds in Argentina and on the old Rio Grande narrow-gauge line through New Mexico and Colorado. We also play around with the English language, revealing some of the quirks with English pronunciation.

The Train to the Clouds is met by local people selling recuerdos.
El Tren a las Nubes … AKA Train to the Clouds, in Salta, Argentina

Watching Episode 32

Watch the entire episode by clicking on Episode 32.

View by Segment

No time to watch a 30 minute episode?  No problem.  You can watch a segment at a time.

Segment One

View Segment 2

Segment 3

Language Objectives

Listening Comprehension: Given visual cues and context, retell the narrative of one of the train trips described in the video clips.

Awareness:  List examples of English words that are inconsistent in their pronunciation and meaning (ie. : words that have the have spelling, but are pronounced differently and have distinct meanings.)

Academic Content Objectives

Locate the continent of South America on a map.  Locate the country of Argentina on a map of South America.  Locate a border between Argentina and Chile. Locate the states of New Mexico and Colorado on a map of the United States.  Describe the topography of the area traversed by the Cumbres and Toltec Railroads     History:Describe the conflict between Argentina and Chile that almost resulted in war during the late 1970 and 1980s.

Videos Used in this Episode

Video Clips Used in this Episode

Tourist Trains

We begin our rail adventure in the Provence of Salta, where we board the Tren a las Nubes to ride to the border with neighboring Chile.  Below, you can see some pictures I took from the train on that journey.  Click on a picture to make it bigger.  Use the return key to return to the page.

Images used in Episode 32

Street performers dancing the Tengo in St. Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires
Quiet train station in Buenos Aires
Grazing donkeys from the train window
Looking at the head-end power on a curve
That’s me on a very high trestle. Despite the sun and the heavy coat, it was quite cold at this elevation.
Here’s the shadow of the trestle cast on a dirt road below. Use the car for scale.
The stream looks tiny from the trestle.
The train took us right up to the border with Chile. In 1995, that border was still closed as a result of the two countries coming close to war with each other.
Residents of the area meet the train with items to sell. Some are made of llama wool.

One of many bridges long the route.
See the bridge in the distance.
This high country is very rocky rocky with canyons.
The tail end of the Tren a las Nubes.
This is the dry season. There’s only a trickle of water in the broad, shallow river. It was winter in South America when I visited – the dry season.
Near the high-point of the rail line – This is a mine.
Livestock grazing the sparse vegetation
One of very few homes in this high country
Llamas or vicunas. This is their natural habitat.
Iguazu Falls. This was a separate trip. My host and I travelled to Brazil to get this shot.

About the Journey

The Train to the Clouds was a great example of a tourist train.  We left the capital city of Salta and ascended to the Andes mountains on the border of Chile.  There we found ourselves on a very high trestle, looking down into a dry river below.

The air was so thin up here that the train carried oxygen bottles for passengers who weren’t getting enough oxygen.  A bitter leaf chewed and moved to the cheek had the same effect of getting more oxygen to the cells.

Bonus Video:  Check here for bonus videos that I’ll add as time goes on, even after we’ve completed the unit on Trains and Railroads.  Here are some already posted:

Sunset Coast

Train to Italy

RUE Trains Extra

Crazy English

Below is the language work we did.  In English, some words that appear identical change pronunciation and meaning, depending on what the writer wants to convey. I suggest repeating the episode so you can hear how the underlined words are pronounced. You might be surprised.

Nest Episode

I hope you’ve enjoyed the 32 episodes in the unit on Trains and Railroads. Our episode begins our unit on Animals. I hope you have fun with it. Next Episode: Visit Episode 33.