Today we went to Mitad del Mundo. It’s a place that marks where the equator crosses through Ecuador. It’s a pretty place. There’s a huge sundial in the middle of the grounds, and there’s the line marking the equator leading up to the sundial. There weren’t that many people there today, but it did seem like everyone wanted to straddle the line on the north and south sides and take pictures. Of course we wanted to do the same thing! It was a great shot.
As we were taking the pictures, I couldn’t help but wonder if these people knew that the line they were standing on was actually inaccurate. Did they know they should be standing about 260 yards south of where they were? Another question that was burning in my mind was: if the equator is an invisible line that cuts the world in half, then isn’t the fact that someone actually drew the line a little strange? Maybe I was thinking too much about it, but I still think those are great questions!
I know I’m a little weird, but I counted 780 steps south to see if there was another line marking the actual equator. There really is! It’s not nearly as pretty as the Mitad del Mundo, but there is a red line that marks the actual equator and a small, much shorter sign that declares the spot. It’s surrounded by tall aloe and cactus plants, so if you didn’t know it was there, then you’d never think to look in that spot.
A guide of sorts was standing near the line. I don’t think he was an official tour guide, but he was talking to a group of tourists. He was saying that the gravitational pull in this particular spot was very strong. To demonstrate this, he tried to walk heel-to-toe on the line marking the Equator. He was completely off balance and nearly toppled over. Then he picked a spot that wasn’t on the red Equator line and walked perfectly fine. Of course I didn’t believe what he was saying, so I tried it myself. OMG, it was true! I really couldn’t hold my balance on this line. It felt like someone was pulling me in each direction. It was strange and cool at the same time.
I wish we had time to stay and explore more of the two sites. We had to get back to our hotel. We’ve got big plans tonight in Quito. I’ll tell you all about them later.