The day I stood on the Equator

Travel tales

The day I stood on the Equator

In Ecuador, if you don’t know Spanish, you are in trouble! I could barely make a staff member of the hotel I stayed in understand that I wanted a taxi to take me around Quito City and drop me back after about four hours.

My driver, Garcia, greeted me and I soon found that his English was as good or bad as my Spanish! However, that didn’t prevent us from ‘communicating’.

After about half-an-hour’s drive, we reached a small hotel on the outskirts where three young women joined us on the tour.

They were from Venezuela, with one of them speaking a smattering of English. Despite the language barrier, we became friends during the tour.

The imaginary Equatorial line passes through Quito and that was the main attraction in the park named ‘Museo Iuti Man in Situ’.

After buying the entrance fee, the first thing that greeted us was the huge figure of an indigenous man carved in wood with potteries scattered nearby with a notice board that read ‘Equator Lat 0 0’ 0’.

An English-speaking guide took us around the exhibits depicting the early indigenous people’s life and culture.

They were mostly forest dwellers in the Amazonian forests with chiefs of each group controlling their tribe.

When a chief died, his wife too would be interred with the body though alive but intoxicated with a concoction.

The next part of the tour concerned the Equator that passes right through the park, with a red line indicating its position.

The actual ‘Middle of the World’ monument, where the official Equatorial line was earlier declared by a French expedition under Charles-Marie de la Condamine in 1763, is about 200 m away from the correct Equatorial line as per modern GPS.

The guide pointed to us the monument that was set up when the French Expedition first identified the Equatorial line.

It’s a great place to get a picture of you jumping from one hemisphere to the other. There is now a museum on this spot.

The guide performed various activities right on the red line that represented the equatorial line.

A bucket full of water was taken and poured into another vessel with a hole and we were asked to observe the direction of the swirl of water as it went down.

That was done on both sides of the red line turn by turn and it was amazing to observe the swirling direction from clockwise to anti-clockwise within a matter of just a few cms difference in the bucket’s location.

The next attraction was balancing an egg on a stand that was kept on the Equatorial red line. The guide demonstrated how it could be done.

A volunteer from our group tried his hand and succeeded after a few hits and misses.

Then a woman, tried very hard but took her a few minutes for her to get the egg balanced without its falling down.

The last part was walking on the red line with outstretched arms with closed eyes. A few tried their skills but gave up after nearly falling down.

It seems the balance of a person gets affected when right on the Equator especially with eyes closed.

I tried walking on the line but with eyes open! I had no difficulty in walking a few steps.

Then a few of us, including me, got our passport stamped with the Equator stamp on our passport reading, ‘Mueo de Sitio Intinan, Latitud 00 00’ 00’’(In Spanish). I also bought a 75 cent Equator postage stamp.

It was a memorable day for me stepping right on the Equator line, no doubt an imaginary one.

Yet it was significant as it divides the earth into two hemispheres right in the middle.

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