Continuing the Equatorial Exploration

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Leaving the actual Equator line, we continued with a visit to a hut representing part of the indigenous culture.

A side room displayed vessels of gourd and pottery.

In the structure was a den of guinea pigs, presumably suggesting that raising them has been a long-term part of the culture. The youth were already buzzing with the fact that they eat them here and consider them a delicacy.

We visited a shop with all kinds of colorful woven goods, but I was more interested in the lady in the shop and her apparently native dress. I was surprised later to find her picture on the web document of someone else who had visited there recently.

We had a bit of time to just explore. Although I could not call names, by this time almost all of these people were known to me as brothers and sisters in Christ. So it did enhance the experience to be with them - we had done a lot of things together.

They had a sizable solar reflector with a pot of water sitting at its focus. I pointed it at the sun and within a few minutes the pot was steaming.

Close to the reflector they had put our food that had attracted this dramatic southern yellow grosbeak. Its common habitat is from Venezuela to Peru.

Finishing our tour at Intinan, we boarded the buses and moved about a mile down the road to the large shopping area that surrounds the Mitad del Mundo site.

The Northshore group while we were waiting for them to get tickets into the market area for the whole group.

Our big group filed its way through the shops toward the big equatorial monument. We passed a custom grilling rig apparently designed for grilling guinea pigs.

We passed the big monument to the Equator, Mitad del Mundo, and proceeded to the far end of the big shopping development. Behind the monument is the cloud of steam that tells us that the volcano we visited is there.

We gathered on a small patio and Shawn and Ron gave us a general description of this shopping area.

I was inclined to tag along and let Ashleigh and Jordan shop. One of the first things they wanted to shop for was food. We went to a little shop that had been recommended.

I got ice cream and they got some fried things whose name I forget. But they let me taste, and they were very good.

In one shop we found this lovely little girl, so Ashleigh and Jordan sat down to play with her.

We found an art shop and hung out there for a while.

This pretty well captures the feel of the whole shopping village. Well-constructed, artistically laid out, and with occasional views of the big monument to its side.

The monument stands in view of the volcanic mountain with the cloud of steam on top.

Mitad del Mundo, Más o Menos

Ashleigh and Jordan at the monument marking the Equator. This is the most famous monument marking the Equator, and is usually just referred to as "mitad del mundo", middle of the Earth, but it was positioned based on the best surveying data available at the time and is 240.3 meters south of the actual equator as determined by modern GPS methods. Its latitude is listed as 00:00:07 or 7 seconds of arc off the equator. We were more accurately on the Equator at Museo Intinan earlier, but the Wiki article disputes even that measurement. This site is 26 km (16 miles) north of the center of Quito.

It was a blessing for me to be at Mitad del Mundo with Ashleigh and Jordan.

It was interesting that from Mitad del Mundo you could see the unique cloud hanging over the mountain of volcano Pululahua. So this location at Mitad del Mundo, the volcano, and the Museo Intiñan were all fairly close together.

The plaque on the Mitad del Mundo monument gives credit to Maldonado in the 1700's for the location, so 230 meters error is not so bad. A Wiki article describes this major geographic and astronomy mission called the French Geodesic Mission in which Ecuadoran geographer and topographer Pedro Maldonado participated between 1735 and 1739.

This is the view from the monument area back to the collection of shops with their yellow and orange color scheme.

In the middle of the shops was a round patio where they had music and dancing. There were a number of sculptures with surfaces that looked like some sort of acrylic. Jordan and Ashleigh sit on a bench formed in one of the sculptures.

A multicolored rose?

Orchid sculpture

There were lots of such nature sculptures, and I include this frog as an example and also to show Luis' sense of humor. Note the dense housing up on the mountain in the distant background.

I guess you could say that this was our only leisurely afternoon of the trip, and Ashleigh and Jordan had time to wander around the little shopping village and look at all the colorful clothing and accessories.

We were scheduled to leave at 5:30 so we started gathering in the area close to the buses. A cloud had blown in and it was quite cool. So Hannah, Jordan, Alex, Ashleigh and Abbie huddled in a couple of the Ecuadoran alpaca blankets they had bought.

We boarded the buses and rode a considerable distance to the house where we were to have dinner. There was a light rain, and on the way we got the treat of this rainbow over the cityscape.

A special Ecuadoran dinner had been arranged for us at a restaurant which was attached to the house of a lady who had been very supportive of the mission effort. For this we were back with our church group, so the Northshore group was together. In above photo on the left Jhanne, Abbie and Hannah. On the right Jordan, Alex, Ashleigh, Paul and Michael with Dustin standing in his newly-purchased Ecuadoran cape. The photo at right adds Oksana on left and Rod and Luis on right.

Missionary Ron Sutton, standing at right, welcomed us and introduced us to our hostess, the lady to his right. She owned the house/restaurant and had traveled with one of the groups this week, providing some translation.

Our dinner included plantain, a little fried pie with white cheese in it, pieces of roasted pork and chicken, a special corn grown there, and small potatoes (of which Ecuador has 6 kinds, we were told). There was a tomato and onion salad and some roasted large kernels of a special maize. Dessert was a fruit sherbet.

After the meal, as promised, they brought out a roasted guinea pig to show us how it is prepared. Our group had a lot of discussion about eating guinea pig during the week. We all got to taste it, and it certainly didn't taste like chicken, more like pork. So there were lots of guinea "pig" type comments. Jordan had to apologize to pet guinea pig Charlie when she got home.

Our hostess was very gracious and made available to us her sitting room and invited exploration of the house. I was interested that they bought bananas by the bunch and the tiny potatoes by the pail.

We had had an excellent day of adventure and a very pleasant evening but the time came to depart for the Quito airport. We were told that it would take about an hour to reach the airport from where we were. We had to go through the city on Saturday night, and the traffic was very heavy.

The map shows that we leave the city and travel some winding mountain roads to get to the Mariscal Sucre International Airport on the east side of the city. From the bus, we could look ahead on the mountains and valleys and see long strings of single lights on this winding highway.

I had made this photo from the airplane on our approach to Quito last Saturday night at about 10pm. It had made no sense to me. Now after a week in the area, it affirmed some of the things we had learned. We had apparently made a loop and were approaching the airport from the south. The long string of lights seen snaking out of the city is that road shown in yellow on the map above.

We reached the airport somewhat after 8pm and went through security. We then could have one last time of fellowship in the airport with some of the people we had worked with before we all separated toward our respective cities in the U.S.

Return to New Orleans

  Nave Album Go Back