The yellow line
Our local guides today are Fernando and Santiago. We are heading north to La Mitad del Mundo or "the middle of the earth" ... the Equator. We negotiate the traffic out of the colonial city centre, pass by the old airport and continue through the suburbs to the Equator Monument. However, our first stop is at the viewpoint to the Pululahua Volcano. This is a "dormant" volcano with a huge caldera, many kilometres in diameter. Inside the caldera there are small farmsteads and cultivated fields. Locals live and work here, despite the potential danger. We enjoy the magnificent views before regrouping to drive back down the hill to the Equator Monument.
We hear about the French scientists who researched the position of the equator and we walk up the wide promenade towards the monument. The building houses an interesting ethnographic museum which you explore by taking the lift to the top observation deck, and then walking down through the exhibition rooms. A sort of one way system. Thankfully it is "lift up, walk down", rather than the other way around.
Outside the monument building we also do the touristy thing and stand on the bright yellow equator line for a photo!
Back in Quito we enjoy a free afternoon and a buffet dinner at our hotel. After dinner the hotel shop owner, Gabriela, hosts a display of chocolate and also colourful figures and ornaments made of bread dough, a technique dating back to pre-Columbian times. We taste chocolate varying from 54% to 70% to 100% cocoa content. The 100% chocolate is an acquired taste!