BootsnAll Travel Network

La mitad del mundo

On Tuesday I took my first Spanish class with Diana, a native quitena. We walked for about fifteen minutes up the stairs at the end of the street where the hostel is (which is no easy feat at this altitude) to have our class in the Parque Ichimbia, which has an amazing view of all the city:


Although Quito apparently means “center of the world” in one of the indigenous languages spoken in Ecuador, the real center of the world is located about an hour by bus north of Quito, where there is a monument to the equator (and one that designates the fake equator, but more on that later). Yesterday I made my way there on Quito’s public transportation system, passing one of Ecuador’s more unfortunate imports along the way:

Lies lies and more lies.

Although I got on the bus at a marked stop, the further north of the city you get, the more the driver is willing to stop for random people in the street: mothers with babies strapped to their backs, snack vendors, and some guy trying to sell little cards for political gain.

When you arrive at the mitad del mundo site, you are deposited outside of the entrance to the fake equator–the one the French “found” a few hundred years ago, but which is really about a five minute walk into the southern hemisphere. I still found it necessary to take a picture there:


At the top of the monolith at the fake equator, I met a random French guy and a friendly Ecuadorian family who wanted to take a picture with us:


Next I made my way to the Inti Nan museum which is at the real equator, a fact the guides prove with all kinds of cool tricks, such as water going straight down the drain rather than swirling in either direction.

Here I am at the real equator:


And here I am balancing an egg on a nail right on the equator line, a feat for which I took home a signed certificate. Apparently this could theoretically be done somewhere that is not the equator, but it would be a lot more difficult.


Here’s me receiving my egg on nail diploma with the Frenchie:

In addition to cool equator tricks, the museum had great examples of indigenous lodgings. Apparently in addition to eating guinea pig or “cuy” (no, I have not worked up the courage), people lived with guinea pigs in their houses in olden times, thinking that the animals were very sensitive to the energy of human beings. You weren’t allowed in the house if the piggies started to make noise when you entered. I just think that they are way too cute to eat:


Here I am pretending to be an indigenous house wife working in the kitchen:


The guide at the museum also showed us a collection of other cool stuff like shrunken heads (too graphic to post), a practice that only ended about 50 years ago among some of the groups in the countryside. There were other fun collections of anaconda skins and boa constrictors, as well as a jar showing the infamous fish that swims inside of you if you pee in the river in the jungle, quickly destroying your insides if you don’t act fast. I am still contemplating if I can handle a few days in the jungle after seeing all the nasty beasts that live there.

Besides the lecherous cabbies constantly asking me why my boyfriend let me come to Ecuador alone and would I like to get to know Ecuadorian men better, there have been minimal complications with the trip so far. I continue to avoid ice and uncooked vegetables, and am learning to carry toilet paper with me, as some places don’t carry it all. But aside from these little tidbits of culture shock, I am really enjoying my time in Ecuador. Apparently it’s the place to be right now; the Discovery Channel travel team has now shown up twice in places in or around Quito that I’ve been.


5 responses to “La mitad del mundo”

  1. Shikse Rosenberg says:

    I may be taking your place at the Levy Passover dinner tomorrow. I plan to stick by your parents for protection from the scary girl my ex-dating person is probably bringing. And Jacob, of course. It’s sacred holidays like this one where I really wish you were here to celebrate with me. Though I’m sure you have your pick of Passover dinners to attend down there. If not, I will channel some of my jewiness to you. nrIn case you’re wondering where I’LL be… or if you were planning to fly back for Holy (Jesus) Week:nr4/1: Palm Sunday-Services at 9am, 11am and 7pmnr4/5: Maundy Thursday-Service at 7pmnr4/6: Good Friday-Service at noonnr4/7: Egg Huntnr4/8: Easter-Services at (6:30am?) 8, 9:15 and 11:30am.nrnrBut tomorrow, I am Superjew!

  2. Shikse Rosenberg says:

    Dear Sir-Queafs-A-Lot, Oxymoronic name power! High five!

  3. Jason Kligier says:

    Hey! I’m glad you are having an amazing time. I just got back from China and they have a KFC on every corner in Shanghai (like Starbucks in America). They’ve even given the Colonel’s outfit in some logos to make him look like more of a worker. Miss ya!

  4. Rachel and Crew says:

    So it is really true that water swirls in different directions depending on what side of the equator you are on. Looks like you’re meeting lots of nice people. I bet you are becoming pretty proficient with your espanol. Looks like you are having fun and thats what this is all about. Grandma Liza spent Pesach with us and you will not be suprised to hear from us that she is still crazy after all these years.

  5. Kamy says:

    Glad to see you’re having such a great time. There’s KFC all over Iran too. The Colonel gets around. The last time I remember seeing a rich man in a fine white suit with a cane, I think he was either a pimp or Scarface. That balanced egg trick was really cool. I’ll keep checking in on your travels. I enjoy this vicarious vacation. Have fun and take care, -Kamy

  6. Tobi Dock says:

    Hey Ariella-nrnrJase gave me your address so i can follow in the fun.nrnrNot only did I see KFC in Costa Rica…nrnrIt was a godsend in Prague when I was sick of european food and just wanted a big soda with ice cubes out of a machine and free refills…nrnrbless america….nrnrKeep writing, its so fun to read about your adventures and see pictures!!nrnr-Tobi

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