Diary Entry

It’s not a long trip from central Quito to get to the equator. You can tell the taxi driver “to the equator please”. In the small town of San Antonio de Pichincho, just outside the capital, a large monument, the Mitad del Mundo, has been built on the equatorial line to commemorate the geodetic missions of the Spanish and French, which calculated the widest of all latitudes.

Unfortunately, they miscalculated a little and the “correct” equator is a few hundred meters further north. But who wants to move a whole monument when it’s already there?

Based on data obtained by TufiΓ±o, it was believed that the equator passed through those two sites. However, according to readings based on the World Geodetic System WGS84, used in modern GPS systems and GIS products, the equator actually lies about 240 metres north of the marked line.

Over the years, countless tourists have had their pictures taken straddling the line drawn down the center of the east-facing staircase and across the plaza.

The pyramidal monument, with each side facing a cardinal direction is topped by a globe which is 4.5 metres in diameter and weighs 5 tonnes. Inside the monument is a small museum that displays a variety of indigenous items pertaining to Ecuadorian culture: clothing, descriptions of the various ethnic groups, and examples of their activities.

Wikipedia: La Mitad del Mundo

You stand with your feet not only on two hemispheres at the same time, but also on two seasons. I stand with one foot in the summer while the other foot stands in the cold winter.

No, you don’t notice a difference. This must be due to the wrong measurement.

Not only the monument and the line are worth seeing for tourists. A whole amusement park was built around it. A replica of the houses of the inhabitants of Amazonia shows the way of life of the indigenous peoples, a large museum in the tower of the monument shows an overview of the indigenous people from the coast over the mountains to the jungle.

On the fairground of an artificial picture-book town, dance and music take place regularly at the weekend. Coincidentally, it’s Sunday, so group after group dance in the square.

If you drive a little further up the mountain you come to a viewpoint from which you have a wide view over the huge volcanic crater of Pululahua. Theoretically, because just in time for our arrival, a thick cloud robs us of all visibility.

Next to the viewpoint, the crazy painter Cristobal Ortega has built his own sun temple and exhibits some of his works of art there. The place is impressive, even if it bespeaks a spirit of megalomania.

We return to Quito and wait until we spontaneously decide to travel to the Galapagos Islands to pass the time until our car is repaired. When the car is finally ready to go, we leave the capital and cross the Andean pass of Papallacta to get to Amazonia.

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