Day 737 (05.04.09)
It was our first full day in Ecuador and what else to do than to visit the 'thing' that the country was named after? Just a short bus ride from the city of Quito you can visit the site of the Equator and this is where we were headed today.
Vic had left us really early this morning to continue her mammoth journey to Cusco and, after a month on the road with her, we will certainly miss her.
After having an early lunch we jumped on the local bus with John and made our way to the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World). We skipped the many little shops, restaurants and other exhibits to go straight to the main event, the equator line.
A large monument marked with the compass points celebrates the discovery of the equator here by the French and it sits proudly atop it's yellow line despite the fact that it has now been discovered that the true equator line is approximately 250m away...well, they were pretty close! Also sitting (standing, jumping, leaping, lunging, and generally larking about) atop the line was a multitude of tourists and we didn't
hesitate to go and join in these shenanigans to celebrate our arrival, there or thereabouts, at latitude 0!
Just as we were off to find an ice-cream to refuel after our equator exertions we bumped into Nick, a friend we'd made in Rio during carnaval. We teamed up with him and his friend Mark and watched the band playing as they apparently do here on Sundays. It made for a great atmosphere as the locals danced along to the music and Mark performed some beautiful equator line dancing!
Just down the road from the official Mitad del Mundo complex is a little outdoor museum called Solar Intiñan (the path of the sun) which is apparently directly on the equator. This demonstrates the way the indigenous people lived and understood their position on the equator by how they farmed and lived. It also allows you to take part in several experiments that apparently show the effects of being on the equator and moving between the northern and southern hemispheres (the explanations for these were a little dubious but they were really fun none-the-less!).
We tried walking along the equator line with our eyes closed (supposed to be more
difficult here than it would be anywhere else), balancing an egg on the head of a nail (supposed to be easier here) which Chrissie succeeded at and became the day's egg master, and we tested the age old theory about whether water flows down the plug hole clockwise or anticlockwise in the different hemispheres. It was a great place to visit and well worth adding to the equator itinerary.
We got back to town just in time to watch the start of the Palm Sunday parade from the Plaza del Teatro. Ecuador is a mostly Catholic country and highly religious and this would be the start of their Semana Santa celebrations for Easter. We watched the brightly costumed procession as it circled the square with its followers waving their candles along to the band's music. It was fascinating to watch and we were sorry we wouldn't still be in Quito to see the even more grand parade that would take place on what we know as Good Friday.
We finished the evening off with John, Nick and Mark drinking cheap rum by the bucketful in our room overlooking the Plaza. A great way to start our time in
a new country!
Day 738 (06.04.09)
One thing we'd always wanted to include in our trip to South America was a visit to the Galápagos Islands and we always knew that it would depend on whether we had enough money left by the time we got to Quito and whether we could find a cheap enough deal. We'd checked our bank account and now just needed to find the deal!
We visited the Carpe DM Adventure office next to the Secret Garden Hostel, with Nick's friend Mark, and found Miriam there to be extremely helpful and straightforward when she was explaining what was involved in the trips. You can either opt for 4 days, 5 days or 8 days which combines the other two trips and we wanted to go for as long as possible since you still have to pay for flights and park entrance on top of the cruise cost. Miriam then spent the next couple of hours working hard to find us the best deal that she could and before we knew it we had agreed to a price and would be leaving the following day for a 7 day cruise (we-d just miss
the first one of the 8 day option). Words could not express how excited we were as Miriam came with us to the bank to be sure that we were safe and sound getting our money out to pay for the trip. Despite it being a last minute deal, the week away would still cost us an arm and a leg but we were certain that it would be worth it. We'd highly recommend Carpe DM for tours in Ecuador, they even ensure that your flights out to the islands are carbon neutral as they offset the effects by planting native trees in rural areas of the country.
The rest of the day was spent getting ourselves prepared for the trip, doing last minute laundry, clearing our camera cards for the thousands of pictures we were sure to take, buying suncream etc. etc. John had left Quito that morning so we moved hotels to stay at the lovely Secret Garden hostel and spent the remainder of our evening packing and enjoying the spectacular views of the city from it's rooftop terrace.
Tot: 2.475s; Tpl: 0.058s; cc: 44; qc: 171; dbt: 0.0991s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.8mb