Just where is the Center of the World?

Quito Travel Blog

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Location Number One, determined to be the center of the Earth by a French Geodesic Mission in 1736. Committed as such in 1936. Discovered to be the wrong spot 1998 (or thereabouts). Oops.

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.

Straddling the northern and southern hemispheres...or am I?

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).

Ten years ago, with the help of GPS, the center was found to be 240 meters north of the bells and whistles spot. This is it folks!
  Ahh!!!  I was hoping to grab an 8 dayer, but my time was limited and deals were getting gobbled up fast, so I ended up booking a 5 day (saving around $400 in the process), with three days to just kick around the islands after.  Now I've heard many a person say going to the Galapagos Islands was the best part of any trip they ever did.  I told myself, hey, I can come back and do it some other time (when I really can afford it), but then I woke up from that dream and realized, no, I won't come back any time soon.  So I decided go for broke now. The prices aren't going to get any cheaper (apparently they even went up 300 since last year) and well, I'm already here.  This means, however, I really will be eating Ramen noodles every night for dinner when I get home, but I'll be thinking to myself as I struggle through yet another bowl, "I got to go the Galapagos!"  I board a plane tomorrow morning, heading for the Darwin, my boat for the next few days.
Fun thing to do on the Equator #1, balance an egg on a nail. I failed.
  We tour a few islands and snorkel and snap endless pictures, and then I go it alone for a few days on the islands before flying back to the mainland next week, just in time to make a quick run down to Lima by the 15th.  

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.

¨Feel the force¨ while walking on the line with your eyes closed. You would´ve thought I had a beer at lunch during this one.
  All good fun for an afternoon.  Navigating the local transport to and from the center of Quito was also an adventure.  I managed to come away with all my stuff! 

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... 

geerbox says:
I have my picture at both places too. But they are three years apart, I didn't know about the GPS one the first time, duh!
Posted on: Jun 12, 2008
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Location Number One, determined to…
Location Number One, determined t…
Straddling the northern and southe…
Straddling the northern and south…
Ten years ago, with the help of GP…
Ten years ago, with the help of G…
Fun thing to do on the Equator #1,…
Fun thing to do on the Equator #1…
¨Feel the force¨ while walking o…
¨Feel the force¨ while walking …
Quito from the hostel rooftop.
Quito from the hostel rooftop.
A statue high on a hill at sunset.
A statue high on a hill at sunset.
Quito
photo by: Bluetraveler