|Iris was rather skeptical about Mitad del Mundo, as she thought it sounds rather like a tourist trap, but it's not everyday you get to stand on the Equator line (the Middle of the World) and try out some fun experiments which can only be done on the Equater! (as quoted from my Lonely Planet) Well, it's got to be done!
It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. The bus ride was rather crowded, but the various women I sat next to, were rather keen on chatting to me. One even tore off her church phamlet and invited me to join her church...
Upone arriving at the complex, we had to pay an entrance fee, which turned out to cover almost nothing else in the complex. After a spot of lunch, we decided to climb up the 30m monumental plinth, built on the French geologist La Condomine's marking of the Equator line, for a spot of view over the complex. We were told that it would be a further $3 to ride the escalator up. Hmph! So we amused ourselves (ok, I amused myself, whilst Iris amused herself watching me) by imitating some Ecuadorian performers dancing their traditional steps. To spite the entrance fees, we also took lots of silly pictures around the plinth. Iris held the camera and counted, "uno, ocho, tres!". There was nothing much else to do, but to wander around the complex and peeking in the various pavilions, where there were some interesting exhibitions.
After that, I wanted to go to the Museum Inti Ñan, where apparently there were the said experiments earlier. Iris, who was not a huge fan of museums, decided to take the hour apart. She later told me she tried out her Spanish on unsuspecting people, asking them "donde esta un baro", and then having to find the toilets herself afterwards.
I paid the $2 for the entrance and was rather bribed by the free food offered to us, and was entertained by the half an hour tour, as they showed us how the native people of Ecuador lived in the past, and narrated some of their habits and beliefs. For example, a girl cannot marry unless she can make the chicha (a alcoholic drink) which pleases the chief. A boy cannot marry unless he can build a canoe from a piece of wood, single-handedly. And that the native people like to have sex outside, to be closer to the earth - the element for fertility.
Then it was time for the fun experiments. Apparently water in the north and south hemispheres whirls down the sink either clockwise or anticlockwise (sorry, I forget which!), but on the equator, it goes directly downwards. There is also less gravity, apparently on the equator, and so it is a lot easier to undo someone's tight clasping of fingers and thumbs, for example. We tried this out to the left or right of the equator line, and compared it when standing on the actual line. My partner in this experiment was a rather tall and strong German - maybe I should have tried arm wrestling with him??? Oh, and on the equator, we weigh a kilo less! Hey, bring out the scales!!!
We were rather caught out by the bus on the way back into Quito. It did not go the same route, and we were almost taken all the way up to the statue of the Virgen - a dangerous part of town. So of course, we had to pay Tourist price for the taxi back.. Grrr!!!
Later that evening, we bussed it to Baños, where many fun activities await us. Iris rather looked forward to trying out white water rafting and soaking in the hot baths, and I liked the sound of biking downhills 60km to Puyo and hiking the local trails...
We arrived slightly later than planned. Our plan of catching a taxi to the hotel was rather foiled by the lack of appearance of taxis. After waiting ten minutes, sheltering away from the rain, we navigated our way to the hostel picked from earlier. It wasn't as far as we had thought, and it wasn't too hard finding our hostel. Only problem was that the doors were locked, and we had to bang hard to wake up the owner, who very kindly opened up, and showed us to our room. When the arranagement was satisfactory, I gratefully said, "muchas gracias", to which, Iris echoed, "Muchas gusto!".