Well we’ve made it to middle earth, well sort of. We made officially made it to the Southern Hemisphere crossing mitad del mundo (the middle of the earth) or as its more widely known, the equator. Determined by a French expedition in 1736, the true equator lies about 200m from the monument and “official” equator marking. Needless to say we did the “official” equator nonsense before moving on to the GPS determined real equator. In what can only be described as Equitorial Disney World, the “official” equator monument lies in a theme park of sorts. They even had the Polaroid people there to take your picture in front of the monument for $10. A park and leisure area with pavilions and museums, gift shops and restaurants it was a little too bizarre and touristy for us to stay in for longer than was necessary. The only thing missing was a large furry rodent, until we saw him roasting on a spit. His name is cuy, guinea pig, a delicacy here we’ve yet to try.
Tipped off by our friends Dave and Tracey, who made their way through Ecuador late last year, we knew there was another equator explanation just outside the gates. Our instructions were to find a restaurant called Equinox, go inside and there we’d find an ancient indigenous explanation of the equator in a small display room. We fled Equitorial Disney World and headed down a dusty road looking for this place. Searching up and down the road, it wasn’t to be found and eventually we gave up and instead went to Museo Inti-Nan.
A very eclectic and yet interesting outdoor museum, it actually occupies what GPS has determined is 0 latitude. Set up almost like a high school science class, the tour started with show and tell of the Ecuadorian amazon, shrunken heads and all (don’t worry its been outlawed for the last 50 years!), and continued to the actual equator. Through a series of science experiments and demonstrations, our guide shared with us the “secrets” of the equator and how the indigenous Quito people knew the earth was round and indeed they were in the middle of it.
In case anyone is interested, yes the water does swirl the other way south of the equator, and I mean literally. The following videos were shot 5 feet north, 5 feet south and on the equator. Incredible!
North of the Equator:
From the Equator:
South of the Equator: