Just where is the Center of the World?
Quito Travel Blog› entry 142 of 151 › view all entries
It's been about five days since I entered Ecuador, and so far I like it. To be honest, I find the people here are friendlier and the overland transport is way cheaper than Colombia. My first stop after crossing the border was the town of Otavalo. It has a very large market where one can spend lots of money on lots of things, and that's just what I did. I got all my Ecuador shopping done in one go. I have five sisters and a niece, so buying gifts can be complicated, but I simplified things by buying them all the same thing! Then I picked up a few items for myself and got the heck out of there before I broke the bank. That would come later anyway.
After a few nights, I hopped a bus, which I almost missed trying to get a cheese sandwich. I saw the bus pull away and had to run off without it. I still feel guilty about ordering and then fleeing. I hit Quito with a mission: find a last minute Galapagos trip on the cheap. Mission almost accomplished. I booked a last minute tour, but there is no such thing as on the cheap when it comes to the Galapagos. You can hop a flight and do things on your own, but you still need to organize travel between the islands and a guide sure is handy. So most people opt for a 4, 5 or 8 day boat tour. The cost of these tours you ask?. Minimum about $1200 for a really basic boat for 8 days, and that's not including the 350 for airfare, 110 for park fees and 20 for snorkel equipment (you'd think they could at least throw that in).
Before all that, I made sure to get to the "center of the world" yesterday. Quito is one of many places on the planet that sits on the Equator, but here they really make something of it. A French team set about locating the exact spot back in 1736, and to commemorate this finding, they built a huge monument on the spot in 1936, which is now surrounded by tourist-trap restaurants and shops. However, the technological advances of this day and age proved the spot to be off about 240 meters. I still say kudos to them for getting so close way back then! You can still get your pictures on the wrong spot, posing as you supposedly stand in the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time, but then you leave that spot, walk down the road to another museum and stand on the real GPS-located spot where you can also balance eggs on nails, watch water pour down drains (straight down on the equator, clockwise in the southern hemi and counter-clockwise in the northern), and other silly experiments.
Today I kick around Quito some more, restless with anticipation of getting up close and personal with amazing wildlife. Stay tuned for lots of pictures! Better go charge some batteries...