Day 45: The Middle Of The World

Thur. 27th September 2012

Mitad del Mundo monument on (near) the EquatorThere was some confusion with our local rep around today’s transfer and particularly as to whether we were flying or driving. We are off to an eco-lodge in Mindo which is a small town in the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest a little way west of Quito. It was recommended by Think Galapagos. Of course we have done extensive research and know all about the place and how we are going to get there. Not!

My only excuse is that the Galapagos in particular was pretty full-on and we always seemed to be on the go. Would I get any sympathy if I suggested that this travelling was hard work and that we need a holiday?

In different hemispheres!Mindo turned out to be a 2hr(ish) drive. Even better our route took us up to the equator and so we were able to visit the sights there that were on our to do list for Quito. First up was the Museo de Sitio Inti-Ñan (museum of the path of the sun) which turned out to be a mix of exhibits from the various tribes in Ecuador and elsewhere in South America alongside quasi-scientific experiments that demonstrated how they knew they were on the equator and different effects in northern and southern hemisphere. They claimed to have the exact Latitude 0 line as proven by GPS.

It was quite fun doing all the experiments on the Latitude 0 line such as balancing a raw egg on the head of the nail (succeeded) or walking with eyes closed and arms outstretched along the line (impossible).

They also did the old ‘does the water go the other way down the plug hole’ experiment with a tub of water that was positioned on the line and then north and south. Have a watch of the video below – no awards for cinetography, but it is unedited to show what was done.

I am still a sceptic (that the coreolis force has any significant effect) but equally I have never seen water go straight down the plug hole and I didn’t spot how he rigged it.

We then went to the more famous Mitad Del Mundo (Middle of the World) with its monument of a globe sitting atop a huge pedestal. We got the obligatory photos of each of us holding up the globe and a brief wander round the Disney-style ethnic village full of shops (selling tourist tat) and restaurants. Other than reproducing the photos from the guidebooks of the monument, we much preferred the Inti-Ñan museum.

Tarabita to access El MonteWhen our taxi dropped us off at the end of a dirt road just outside of Mindo,  we had one final challenge in order to get to the El Monte eco-lodge – the tarabita a small rope and wood cable car (well seat) that is used to cross the swift flowing Rio Mindo.

Our cabin in El Monte - very pretty, pretty basicOurs is one of half a dozen wooden cabanas dotted around the grounds as satellites to a beautiful large wooden lodge. It turned out that we had arrived just in time for lunch and we sat down to eat with Tom the American owner who has lived in Ecuador for the last 25 years. Tom was an excellent host and told us a little of his history and the background to the lodge and asked us about our travels (and experience at the Olympics).

ButterfliesIn the afternoon, we walked back into Mindo with Lucia, our guide, looking at some of the sights. These included:

  • Butterfly farm – which we wouldn’t recommend though the butterflies were spectacular; and
  • Orchid Gardens – where the owner was really passionate about her flowers, and the collection of orchids was really diverse – plants and flowers of all different shapes and sizes.

As Lucia spoke very little English, then it was also a really good Spanish lesson as we tried to understand more about her, what we were seeing and the town.. Sadly, I probably only scored about 5/10 – must do some more revision tonight!

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