Our first and only time in Ecuador was in 1973 when Kevin and I were on our honeymoon. Our flight stopped in Quito en route to Buenos Aires, so we really haven’t seen much of this small country. After crossing the equator, for which Ecuador is named, we arrived in Manta on a rainy Sunday morning. Regent planned an overnight excursion to Quito for all of the “rounders.” Because of the rain and fog, the airport was closed in the small port city. But after several hours wait, we were able to board our charter flight to the capitol city perched high in the Andes Mountains. At 9300' elevation, Quito is surrounded by some very active volcanoes and is located in a lush valley. The city, which runs the length of the valley, is 35 miles long and about 4 miles wide. On the way to the hotel I noticed that there was a big bottle of oxygen on our bus. Many people get altitude sickness here. We certainly could feel the effects of this elevation in a city more than a mile high. Walking up a couple flights of stairs became a major effort. Because of the large number of
Asian immigrants, both Ecuador and Peru are known for their good Chinese restaurants. So that is what we did for lunch…”Chifa.”
That night we went to the San Francisco Monastery to tour the choir and museum at the largest religious complex in South America. The old colonial town is dotted with churches. In just one church there is over four tons of gold decoration. Just imagine the amount of gold the Conquistadors must have shipped back to Spain. Cocktails were served in the open air courtyard before we toured the museum which has the most important collection of religious art in Latin America. The theme of most of the art work focuses on the bloodier aspects of Christ's passion like the crown of thorns, lashing and stigmata.
A very fancy dinner was served in the refectory accompanied by the lovely music of a small ensemble.
The next day we went to the Middle of the World. In 1736 a group of French scientists came to Ecuador and spent nine years scientifically verifying the roundness of the Earth. In doing so they had to establish the exact location of the equator which divides the earth into Northern
and Southern Hemispheres. This was all done with very basic equipment. After all they didn’t have a GPS to tell them to turn left or right. It was only since the invention of the Global Positioning System that they learned the true Equatorial Line is located 1000’ south of where the scientists originally marked the spot. We were shown the Coriolis Effects where south of the equator water draining out of a sink will swirl clockwise and the opposite occurs on the north side of the line due to the rotation of the earth. It is amazing since the line is only several inches wide. In the 1990s a sacred indigenous site was discovered where “… one end of the wall lies directly on the equatorial line, another line creates a 23.5 degree angle to the equator, the same degree as the Earth’s axis, and two others point to the sun’s rise on the solstice in December and towards the sun’s set on the solstice in June, indicating that the indigenous people had incredible equatorial and solar calculations.” Another interesting thing about standing directly on the line is that you weigh about 2lbs less.
After everyone bought the Panama
CELE & STUART
Dining at the beautiful monastery.
hats which are really from Ecuador, we went to the airport and flew to Guayaquil to rejoin the Mariner. We were greeted at the ship by the band and ship’s staff and crew clapping and waving to us. It is always nice to be welcomed home so warmly! Guayaquil is located on the Guayus River--about a four hour cruise from the ocean. As we left Guayaquil and were cruising down the river we encountered swarms of teensy little bugs that attached themselves to our legs. We jumped in the pool to get rid of the critters. Fortunately they weren't mosquitoes but they caused lots of itching. Now we are headed to the desert-like ports of coastal Peru.
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