Tue 1st May
Over breakfast I chat to Enda and Aoife, the Irish couple I met last night and decide to tag along with them as we both have the same plans for today – to visit Ecuador’s most famous tourist destination- Mitad del Mundo.
We’ve heard loads of people saying this journey takes ages if u decide to go by public transport – on average an hour and a half but on further research and just by looking at the big map in our hostel, there’s no need to head to Ofelia and change buses. U simply need to walk to the stop at Tejar and the bus from there is direct. It cost us 40c and took about 50 mins.
Off the bus we cross the busy road and head to the Mitad del Mundo site – u can’t miss it! Entry for this one is 5$.
Mitad del mundo means middle of the earth or and Ecuador means equator. Although the equator runs through other places, due to the importance of the sun to the Incas and Quito having the highest elevation (2850m above sea level), they believe being closer to the sun makes them the official mitad del mundo.
The equator was discovered by a French geodesic expedition team led by Charles-Marie de la Comdamine in 1736 and they seemed through their experiments that this was the middle of the earth.
In later years with the advent of GPS, it was discovered that the work of Comdamine and his team was incorrect and the actual equator line was 240 northwest of where they had calculated.
The work however of the expedition was pretty remarkable for its time, so in 1935, despite the incorrect coordinates, the Ecuadorean government decided to honour the French expedition by building a 10m high monument. This was later replaced by a much larger 30m high monument in 1972 named Ciudad Mitad del Mundo.
We wander round and take the obligatory photo like everyone does with one foot each side of the equator line.
We take a wander through the monument which is a rather crowded museum full of scientific experiments and info on the equator.
We go up to the top to look out
then out to the Mitad del Mundo letters for another snap
From here we head to the Intiñan Solar Museum – reportedly built to mark the real equator line!
This is left out of main entrance and left again up a little path and costs a further 4$ for entry.
Here there are a few exhibitions on the indigenous people of the region called Quechua’s – which includes shrunken heads, and pieces of string holding in place men’s anatomy!
It then gets a bit cheesy but good old tourist fun with some fun tricks supposedly only possible on the equator. These include water flowing clock and anti clockwise down a drain due to the coriolis effect, walking down the line with eyes closed being impossible due to the pull to one side or another
balancing an egg in its end on a nail head etc
Despite this second place being erected to mark what was deemed the real equator, more modern GPS measurements suggest this isn’t the case and there’s now a third mitad del Mundo near Cayambe and the Quitsato Sundial is the representation of this 47km north of Quito!
I didn’t bother going here as well but if you do a trip to Otavalo market, then it’s not far to visit.
Back in the old town, starving from not having any lunch we find a great little bakery. It is voted the #1 bakery on Trip Advisor and does the best deserts and sandwiches.
Back at the hostel I chill for a while having been with people all day…but then it’s back to the communal area for dinner and on meeting a few more people it turns into another early birthday celebration and a few too many vinos considering I have an early start tomorrow! A fun night though so worth it!