Near the Middle of the World

Celebrating the highest point on the equator. Except it’s off by about 240 meters. That’s OK, it’s still a cool place to visit.

equatorsignOne month ago, I was traipsing around the equator, at its highest elevation on earth, just outside Quito, Ecuador. This country was breathtakingly beautiful, whether we were gazing up the Andes, strolling across lava fields and avoiding giant tortoises in the Galapagos, or peering at monkeys in the upper reaches of the Amazon rainforest.

Our first day in Quito included having a tour guide take us around part of the city, and then into the hills outside of town, to the equator.  The monument for the equator is in two places in Ecuador, which represents the highest point on earth crossed by this line. A large monument, surrounded by a museum on the ethnic groups of Ecuador and a lovely park, is located here at the Cuidad Mitad del Mundo (Spanish language website here).

Representative totems from indigenous people

A French survey expedition established this site over two hundred years ago. However, with updated GPS data, we now know the true equator is about 240 meters north, and with a new interpretive center is in place. So, to make sure we’ve covered all the bases, we visited both sites, the accurate equator spot being commemorated by the privately owned Inti-ñan Museum. Here, we visited panoramas of the early peoples of the area, saw a real shrunken head (no, Kitty, I wasn’t allowed to bring one back, as it’s illegal now, so sorry), and strolled through landscaping featuring indigenous plants.

The museum guide then demonstrated, atop a yellow line signifying the equatorial line, a series of parlor tricks that are ‘known facts’ about the equator but which can be replicated anywhere: balancing an egg on its end is only possible here, showing water drains in different directions depending on which side of the line you are on (the Coriolis effect acts on very large masses and has nothing to do with the direction your toilet swirls), and that it’s hard to keep your balance and walk a straight line with your eyes closed, on the equator, because gravity wants to pull you over.

If Irena falls off the equator…?

All not true. However, we were a polite bunch of critical thinkers. Since no one was trying to tell us vaccines don’t work, we smiled and nodded.

Crossing the equator a few dozen times in one morning can really work up an appetite, so our next stop with lunch…with a view!

The ubiquitous banana, one of Ecuador’s main industries

Categories: Travel

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5 replies

  1. I’ve really come to love Ecuador.

  2. This is great! Thanks for putting it together, Naomi. 🙂 Loved being on the trip with everyone.


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