Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The middle of the world

We have now arrived in Quito.
Quito is split in two: The new town which is basically ´tourist land´- Very commercial with travel agencies everywhere who sells trips to the Galapagos Islands, the Amazons and the volcanoes around Ecuador, tons of hotels and hostels and millions of different restaurants. Nothing but a big gringo circus. The other part of Quito is the old town which is famous for its colonial buildings. So far we have only taken part of the big gringo circus – but tomorrow we plan to see the old part.

Today we visited the “Mitad del Mundo”, the middle of the world, which is about 25km. outside Quito. Going there, passing the great deserted rough mountain landscape, we weren’t really sure if we were going to the middle or the end of the world.

Mitad del Mundo is the actual spot where Charles-Marie de La Condamines research proved that the earth is not entirely round (!) It bulges on the equator which is why we both lost a couple of pounds during our stay there – due to the reduced gravity.
The most interesting thing though, is the fact that we have been standing with one foot in the Northern hemisphere and the other in the Southern hemisphere!.
This took place in a museum called Inti Nan (the path of the sun) which is a wonderful mixture of an on-location museum, experiments, and lots of stories about the accient people and their culture.
The prove, that this was really equator (despite the fact of a GPS), was the clockwise rotation of the water on one side of the equator and the counter clockwise rotation of the water on the other side, when you flush water in a sink. The experiments of flushing the water also showed that the water doesn’t rotate at all when the sink was placed directly on the equator. Wicked stuff….which we had to film…
Besides this, directly on the equator Henrik managed to balance an unboiled egg on a nail!

The pre-Inca’s used to worship the sun (and the moon) on this very spot. Among many structures and buildings, the pre-incas had build an 18 meter tall cylindrical building which would be 100% illuminated for around 2 minutes twice a year. On these two days, the whole indigenous community would enter the building a make “thumbs up” to receive the power of the sun through the thumps… This also explains why “thumbs up” is so extremely common here in South America – which is has been for around 1500 years! :-)

As said – the plan is to explore the old part of Quito tomorrow. The day after we head to Latacunga, hoping for opportunities to do some volcanic trekking in the area.

See our pictures from Mitad del mundo on http://www.flickr.com/photos/73701193@N00/


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