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Published: November 26th 2007
Me at the "Middle of the World!"
Here I am in front of the giant monument that marks latitude 0.00 degrees.
I’m on a bus right now driving back from the “middle of the world” (as they call it). In other words, I was at the equator! I stood with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and one foot in the Southern Hemisphere.
That alone is pretty cool, but the whole experience was made absolutely unforgettable thanks to the incredibly hard work and detailed planning by the Ecuador Scout Association. They bussed about 8 huge busloads of conference delegates to this big monument (which, by the way, took FOREVER because there was a marathon on so the traffic was reduced from 4 lanes to 2 the entire way). Once we got there, all of us from dozens of countries throughout the world marched up a wide walkway lined on either side with adorable Ecuadorian cubs and their leaders, waving flags and smiling at us. The giant monument on the equator is encircled by a large walkway, so we all spread out around it in preparation for a really great ceremony.
I won’t describe it in detail, but it was multi-lingual due to the many different nations that were in attendance. Such multilingual aspects were to include prayers said in Spanish,
Half in the south, half in the north
It is an Ecuadoran tradition to photograph yourself with half in each hemisphere. Can't go against tradition!
English, French, and Portuguese. Christian from Les Scouts de Canada (a francophone scouting organization that is separate from Scouts Canada) got roped in to doing the French prayer, and then Chris was asked to do the English prayer. “No way!” he said, and the poor guy was sent off in search of another poor English-speaking sucker. Who did they find? Well, ask my friends Hélène and Mark who the bigger sucker around is, and they’ll tell you with fail that it is me. That’s right. Jessica, most unreligious person ever, was now responsible for making up and delivering some on-the-spot prayer in front of an international crowd of hundreds, in the space of approximately five minutes. Greaaaaaat. How do I get myself in to these things?
Well, it went all right in the end. It was short, to the point, and very non-gody (let us be thankful for these beautiful surroundings and wonderful friends…. etc). My mike didn’t work at first, but I think I covered it up pretty well. The prayers were all being said at the north, south, east, and west points of the monument, so only a quarter of the people could see me anyways. I
There's more where those came from
This gives some idea of the number of Scouts that were at the ceremony. There was a second layer of circle behind this one, as well. Hope they enjoyed my "prayer!"
couldn’t understand the others but Christian, who is great with languages, tells me that the Spanish and Portuguese ones very traditional Roman Catholic prayers, while our Canadian ones were much more on the “spiritual” side of things. So, I guess that’s good. Something for everyone.
After the ceremonies were over I was completely overwhelmed by South Americans wanting to take their picture with me and trade various parts of our uniforms. I had absolutely nothing to trade, and disappointed quite a number of little kids, but what can be done? The bright equatorial sun was also REALLY hot. Stupid non-breathable Canadian Scout uniform. It was really a fun time, though, and an absolutely incredible experience. Add it to the list of amazing things Scouting has allowed me to see/do! As Chris said last night at dinner, "these are the times when I like to say 'who's laughing NOW?' to all those people who made fun of me for being in Scouting." (possibly not a direct quote, but you get the idea). Not that I've ever been teased to my face about it, but there's definitely a lot of people out there who think it's pretty weird for me to
Scouts of the World in Two Hemispheres
We all lined up on either side of the equator, but we made a pretty long line! Then we had to hear a bunch of speeches. This is about the time I got roasted by the sun.
be involved. They don't know what they're missing!
Now it’s back to the Hilton for a full afternoon of meetings. I hope the translators are as good today as they were yesterday!
UPDATE: So…. I got brutally sunburned and am currently suffering from mild sunstroke. Whoops. Darn those direct equatorial sun UV rays. I told you it was hot!
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