Grant McWilliams

Middle of the World

img_6701Breakfast is provided by the hostel and is quite good. They fix pancakes, scrambled eggs, toast, fruit and some sort of drink. All of this is free as is Internet. Our plan was to take a taxi to the bus station and catch a bus to Otavalo where the indigenous market was. Our taxi driver offered to drive us to Otavalo and Mitad del Mundo the monument for the equator for $100 and Mo offered to split it with me so we did. This although expensive turned out to be a good choice as it allowed us to do several things in one day that we may not have gotten to otherwise. The monument on the equator wasn't that interesting but we did go to the top and look around. My guidebook told how to get to the real ecuator which wasn't that far away but we decided to have our taxi img_6709driver take us there.

On the real equator there is a museum of the path of the sun (Museo de Sitio Inti-Nan) which proved to be a much more fun experience. They tell about the people that used to live there including the head shrinkers. They also have several experiments like watching water flow down a drain in different directions depending on where it's done. Our guide had us stand 4 feet north of the equator and had me clasp my hands head high and she tried to pull them down and couldn't. We then moved over to the equator and did the same thing and she was able to pull my arms down no matter how hard I resisted. Centrifugal force is canceled out on the ecuator which makes me wonder how much of our strength is ours and how much is a product of the earth's rotation.

img_6714We returned to our taxi and our drivers had img_6723switched. I seems as though our driver had something else to do and his brother took over. The trip to Otavalo was uneventful. The scenery was nice but looked like many places in the states with pine trees and low mountains. Once in a while we'd get a glimpse of Cotopaxi in the clouds. The vegetation changed a bit when we got closer to Otavalo and it became prettier in my opinion. Otavalo is on a large lake named San Pablo. I think Otavalo is cleaner than most of the Latin American cities we've seen. Our taxi driver found a place to park close to the market and told us to meet him in one hour because he thought it might rain. This market is the largest Indigenous market in Ecuador they say and we found many nice things but I'm not sure it was that much different than the markets we've seen other places like Pisac in Peru. Mo got some blankets and other gifts for her family. Here you can get a nice woven blanket for about $15 or so and Alpaca scarves go for about $5. The indigenous people here don't dress like the ones in Quito with their hats and stuff. The ladies here almost always wear a white blouse with something over it like a shawl or vest like thing. They do have the many stacked gold necklaces like the people in Quito though. Starved from shopping and the trip up we returned to the taxi only to not find our driver so we ate at a Mexican restaurant across the street. It wasn't any worse than any Mexican food at home and our stomaches were used to it. The taxi driver showed up and we returned to Quito ready for the next day.