My recent journey to Ecuador brought me, not so surprisingly, to the equator itself. The name Ecuador is derived from the Spanish name of República del Ecuador or the Republic of the Equator. Since we were in the country named after the equator, we had to go to the place where you can in both the northern and southern hemisphere at once!
La Mitad del Mundo (or the Middle of the World) is the official monument for the equator line, but this massively large monument is apparently off of the actual equator by hundreds of feet. This place was built back in 1979 before everyone owned a fancy GPS or the existence of Google Earth. Despite the latitude discrepancy, the shops and restaurants surrounding the monument were worth checking out, even with the high tourist prices. The highlight of this place is the traditional dancers that performed the entire time we were there. I kept getting distracted mid-lunch by the awesome routines, costumes, and ribbon hats that were taking place near our restaurant.
*New York Times article on How the Center of the Earth Got a Little Off Kilter*
Intiñan Solar Museum is supposed to be where the actual equator is (but I’ve already seen a few sources debating the validity of this spot as well). This place has all sorts of entertainment as part of their tour – which was in English. Major win for those of us who are linguistically challenged! The tour starts off with history about the pre-Columbian (aka before the arrival of Columbus and the Spanish) tribes. We found out about how one of the tribes “shrunk” the heads of their enemies with the help of stones and heat. And we learned all about the scary Amazon snakes, spiders, and fish that you would want to avoid like the plague.
You can even get your passport stamped here saying that you were at the equator. I was a bit skeptical about having this random stamp in my passport, but no one at US customs gave me any problems with the newly acquired stamp, so I guess I’m good to go… that is until I try to leave the country again this summer and security finds this random equator stamp. *Keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t be a problem!*
Check out some of the fun stuff you can do while at the “real” equator line:
You can stand with one foot in each hemisphere with the official sign that says it was measured by a GPS. So this has to be where the actual equator is, right?
Part of the tour involves watching water fall directly down the drain since we are on the equator instead of circling clockwise or counterclockwise like it does on either side of the equator.
Apparently it is also easier to balance an egg on the head of a nail on the equator.
And walking straight on a line with your eyes closed is a bit more difficult on the equator. But let’s be real. Walking straight on a line with your arms out and eyes closed it going to be difficult anywhere. I run into stationary objects with my eyes open. Of course I’m going to wobble with my eyes closed!
Local dancers aren’t only at the “Middle of the World.” This guy even pulled our students into his routine and taught them some Ecuadorian moves.