In the afternoon, we headed off to the equator, just a bit north of Quito. A large monument, Mitad del Mundo (“middle of the world”), sits on the point that the French originally surveyed as the exact equator, along with a variety of shops. However, more accurate technology later located the exact equator a few miles from this spot. We traveled to this “true” equator and visited a strange museum entitled Museo de sitio Inti-ñan (“museum of the place of the sun’s pathway”). (For those interested in the meaning of the words, sitio means “place” in Spanish; inti is “sun” and ñan is “pathway,” both in Quichoa, the native language of Ecuador. And if you don’t read Spanish but want to understand the above Web site, you can use Google Translate.) In addition to a replica of an indigenous home, a number of displays and demonstrations focused on the equator. For instance, a GPS proudly displayed 0.00o latitude. One could try to balance an egg on its end—something that allegedly can be done (any time) only at the equator and only on the two solstices elsewhere. We also watched a “demonstration” of the Coriolis effect: Water circled a drain counterclockwise just a few feet north of the equator and reversed direction to circle the drain clockwise just a few feet south of the equator. (However, without giving too much away, this probably isn’t related to the Coriolis effect, since the earth turns so slowly. Other forces, having nothing to do with the equator, likely create that effect.) Fun, even if not very scientific or fact-based. A totally valid bonus for me was that we saw a Black-tailed Trainbearer (a hummingbird with a tail about 3 times longer than its body) at the feeders there. I was so surprised by it that we didn’t get a photo, but you can see one here.
We headed back to the hotel then gathered a bit later as a large group in the hotel’s dining room. Gonzalo gave us our marching orders for the morning. Tomorrow, we were to have our luggage, with the travel agency’s tags clearly displayed, outside our room doors by 7 a.m. We then were to eat breakfast and gather in the lobby after that to head to the airport for our flight to Baltra. All right—let the adventure begin.