Mitad del Mundo, Ecuador – Crossing-the-line ceremony

The equator is only five kilometres south of Cayambe at the eastern branch of the forking Pan Americana. If we wouldn’t have watched the street signs carefully, we would have passed the unspectacular monument. The sundial equal to pre-Columbian examples with Cayambe Volcano in the background is definitely photogenic. And funny with it, we can stand with one leg on the northern, with the other on the southern hemisphere. Of course, the crossing-the-line ceremony can’t be missed. Fortunately we brought the Champaign from Colombia where alcohol is less expensive. Although it is not our first equator crossing, it is the first time on foot respectively by car, and for Arminius it is definitely the first time. The visit of the monument is complimentary, but for listening to the explanations of the local guide a “donation” of 1 $ per person is requested.

In contrast to the quiet “real” equator monument is the completely commercialised tourists’ spectacle Mitad del Mundo 25 km / 16 mi north-west of Quito. To visit the “centre of the world” we have to fork out 2 $ for parking and another two per person for the access. A 30 m (100 ft) high monument with a globe on top stands here, together with 13 busts of the members of the French-Spanish geodetic expedition from 1736 to 1744 and the equator line that the scientists calculated back then. Too bad that it is wrong. The commission miscalculated it for 180 m (197 yards). In view of the year a forgivable mistake. In the monument is an ethnologic museum whose mediocre call one can follow for another 3 $ or not. Around the monument there is a whole lot of tourist fuss including the indispensable restaurants and souvenir shops. Despite the hustle and bustle – Mitad del Mundo is an essential part of an Ecuador trip.

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