The equator, middle earth, no Hobbits.

You really can’t come to Ecuador without including a short visit to the actual equator, our next day trip out of Quito. It’s about a two hour trip to the San Antonio parish north of Quito on some great local buses.

You really can’t come to Ecuador without including a short visit to the actual equator, our next day trip out of Quito. It’s about a two hour trip to the San Antonio parish north of Quito on some great local buses.

In 1938 a 10 metre monument was erected to mark the centre of the earth (Mitad del Mundo). Unfortunately, they missed the mark somewhat and in 1979 it was moved 7km down the road. The area now is akin to an amusement park, with a museum, restaurants, and on Sundays, famous national musicians performing in a little amphitheatre. On the Sunday we arrived the place was rammed with locals signing along to a couple of celebrities. Loads of fun, but not a clue who they were.

I’m resisting posting the usual picture of me with one foot in each hemisphere, or a jump shot of me captured mid-air in front of the monument which was bizarrely popular. I don’t get the attraction of the jump shot photos, some cameras out here actually detect when you are at the optimal point in a jump and automatically take a photo.

Anyway, here is a photo of the equator itself, exciting stuff.

 

The equator, special stuff.

Amusingly, sometime in the 90’s, someone came here with one of those new-fangled GPS gizmos and discovered that the equator equations were miscalculated again (you think they would have checked after they had to move it the last time). Turns out that it’s actually about 300m down the road, but this time they’re not budging, the truth quietly ignored and dismissed as a dirty little secret.  Luckily for one local the real latitude 0’0”00 is in his back garden and he’s now making a tidy profit on the entrance to the “Real Mitad del Mundo”.

The "real" equator, equally special stuff.

This small attraction is well worth the visit. It’s padded out with some “authentic” tribal huts, dubious shrunken heads and completely idiotic scientific experiments which are supposed to show how magical the equator line is. For half an hour we were shown how water flows in different directions down a plug hole on either side of the equator (that’s nonsense by-the-way), how it’s possible to balance an egg on a pin here and how it’s easier to walk in a straight line. Hilarious, but not as hilarious as a group of young American teachers who were lapping this all up as fact. Worrying.

Shrunken head.

A great day, great local street food and laughs at the parlour tricks. Touristy as hell, but how could we miss the equator in Ecuador?