Standing on the Equator line
Today we are visiting La Mitad del Mundo - the ¨middle of the earth¨. This National landmark is situated about one hour drive north of Quito´s colonial city centre. After some negotiation from guests during last night´s dinner, Richard agreed to delay our morning departure (but only by 30 minutes!), so it is after a leisurely breakfast that we join our private coach. Guides Fernando and Santiago greet us and we leave the Patio Andaluz Hotel on time. The city centre is busy with traffic and the roads quite narrow so we make slow but steady progress until we find a car parked awkwardly at a junction. This prevents our driver, Johnny from turning our long bus around a tight corner. The car has hazard warning lights flashing but we can see no driver through the black glass windows. We hoot. We hoot again. No reaction. Santiago jumps off and pretends to be a policeman. Sadly his impersonation is not successful. Then we discover there is a lady sitting in the back seat of the car! She lowers her window very slightly and we explain the car needs to move. She hands us a mobile phone to speak to the driver. No reply. We may be here a while and there is quite a queue of cars behind us now! We are on a hill so Richard suggests we ask the lady car passenger to unlock the drivers door, then we can let the hand brake off and allow the car to roll back out of the way.. It might work. As we open the door the car alarms start up rather noisily. Anyway, Santiago jumps in and releases the hand brake. Without the car key the steering wheel locks at an angle so the car goes backwards and up on the kerb. We leave the car and lady diagonally across the pavement and make our exit. Johnny turns the corner and we escape quickly.
Just north of the Equator Monument is the Pululahua Volcano. We drive to a view point and take a look into a vast caldera. It is many kilometres in diameter and the base of the caldera is occupied by small farmhouses and cultivated fields. Locals live and grow their crops here, inside a volcano that is considered potentially active. The weather is sunny and clear so the views are tremendous.
After a short transfer down the hill we start to explore La Mitad del Mundo visitor site. Fernando and Santiago give us information about the Equator Monument and the history of the area. We are occasionally distracted by hummingbirds, and Fernando´s group is lucky enough to spot a Vermillion Flycatcher. Bright red and beautiful! Most of us explore the interesting Ethnographic Museum which occupies the pyramid shape monument building. The structure is topped by a globe 4.5 metres in diameter and weighing 5 tons.
Naturally we also try our best to do the touristy thing and we stand on the Equator line for a photo. It is easy to spot the Equator line, it is painted bright yellow!