Today, our guide Paul took us to the famed monument on the Equator, a place where locals call it “Middle of the Earth”. We first visited a small museum dedicated to the Equator where we experienced few “mysterious” effects of being at the latitude 0 deg 00′ 00″. We first learned about a group of French scientists who arrived here in 1700’s and conducted calculations as to where exactly is the equatorial line. They came quite close, but some 30 years ago it was determined by more sophisticated GPS technology that they were off by about 250 meters. The first museum we visited claims to be on the accurate site. So we conducted a few interesting experiments:
First we learned from the local guide about the Coriolis effect which basically deals with the direction of the swirling water in toilets depending which hemisphere you are on, south or north. (In actuality, Coriolis effect is much more complex). We had a demonstration with a water basin and floating leaves which was then drained into a bucket. Well, it drained straight down on the equatorial line and in opposing directions on either side. Truth or hoax, we didn’t care, it was fun to watch. The second “experiment” was about the forces. Apparently on the Equator we have less strength resisting external force. This was again proven by our guide breaking our arm hold which he could not do off to the side, one meter away. Strange… Our final experiment had to do with supposedly easier balancing of an egg on a head of the nail while standing directly on the Equator. In this case I proved once again to be an egg master as I balanced the egg within 15 sec, faster than the guide. Poor Ana could not do it at all. All in all it was all fun, science aside:)
Later we visited the official monument to the Equator (erroneous by 250 meters) but quite dramatic and grandiose. It is more of an amusement site with some attention given to education by exhibition dedicated to Ecuadorian history and biodiversity.
In the afternoon we visited Quito’s old town with its charming colonial architecture, narrow streets and plazas. We made a brief stop to the best coffee store in Quito, Cafe Aguila de Oro where we bought freshly roasted coffee. We also visited some hotels (part of the job), had a great lunch in a typical Ecuadorian restaurant called Mama Clorinda, where I had a chance to try guinea pig which tastes like rabbit and later visited a local arts and crafts market.
We finally finished the evening by trying the local coffee and dark chocolate ice cream before returning to our hotel. Ecuador is emerging as the next chocolate making star, using locally grown and harvested cacao.
Well, tomorrow I am due to return to Northern hemisphere and back to LA, and Ana will have one more place to visit in Ecuador before continuing her trip to Peru for travel convention.
Here are some pics from our trip today: