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The South American Dream A long time coming...

Quito....the centre of the earth!

ECUADOR | Tuesday, 31 May 2011 | Views [2072]

The bus ride was pretty unexpected,the usual journey from Cañoa to Quito takes 10 hours... this one took 5 hours!  The driver was a maniac and drove like a loony, I was nearly throwing up withing 10 mins of the journey, the coach was flying off the road at every available moment...it was also like a freezer on the bus, I wore leggings and jeans, and I think about 4 layers on-top including my fleece for trekking...only warming up when I got into my trusty silk sleeping bag liner, an essential for anyone traveling I believe.  Apart from those 2 downfalls, the coach itself was pretty nice, actually I´d probably go to say it was the nicest bus I´d been on in Ecuador!

So arrival in Quito was at just before 3am and I managed to grab a cab straight to the hostel in the new town, where I was staying and sleeping in until a much more reasonable hour. I only had 2 days in Quito so it was important I wasn´t too lazy in my snoozing! I was also meeting up with my dear friend Jamie who I´d traveled with into Ecuador and to the Galapagos and Puerto Lopez. So I was pretty excited about seeing her! She had also been ill so I wanted to make sure she was OK and cheer her up, its not great traveling or being alone when you're not well. I actually bumped into Jamie as soon as I awoke and she promptly directed me to a very good breakfast place, The Magic Bean,  where I dined at all three days I ate breakfast in Quito!

After breakfast I wanted to spend the day checking out the old town, I managed to persuade Jamie along too which was a nice surprise as I didn't think she'd be up to it and it was great to have the company too.  We walked all the way there through a busy park...Parque El Ejido.  I was Sunday so there were a lot of people out.

Heading up to the old town we went past a sculpture in the park...

Before heading up to the grand plaza...

And to a church just north of the plaza...

We decided to do the Lonely Planet walking tour around Quito, it seemed like a quick and easy way to see the old town, whilst being safe.  I'd been told by a few people that Quito wasn't a safe place, although I had no problems there.

So, heading east of the grand plaza...

We went through the gate...

And through a tunnel before we headed down Calle de la Ronda...

Looking up at the sprawling city spreading up in the hills...

We even saw a rainbow on our tour...

As well as the Basilica del Voto Nacional...

Before heading through back through another park, Parque la Alameda...

and heading back to the hostel.

The following day I headed out alone after another tasty breakfast, this time to Mitad al Mundo, the centre of the earth!  The Ecuadorians claim it is, because Ecuador has the highest mountains of any country on the equator and therefore it is closest to the sun.

I ventured by public transport, taking the metrobus, a tram system, and then onto a normal bus.  This is where it went wrong, I didn´t know where to get off, and wasn´t told, which is surprising as I was the only foreigner on the bus, and it was the only tourist stop I believe, so I ended up at a bus station in the middle of nowhere!  Luckily there are some very kind bus drivers in Ecuador and I was put straight back on another bus and directed back to where I needed to go.

Arriving at the original equator line, I say this as it was actually re-measured at a later point and found to be incorrect, I decided to take a look around before heading round the corner to the actual line! 

The original, which is the official one, is very grand and full of touristy shops and various museums which I avoided as they were one room entities and there was an additional cost on-top of the entrance fee I'd already paid! The original equator line was quite cool though, I think you'll agree...

I was wondering about and I bumped into someone I had been working on the farm with and Jamie knew as well, its a small world! After spending a little more time checking out what was there, we headed round the corner to the actual equator line!  This was far more interesting, although much smaller and a lot less touristy, it housed a collection of interesting information and artifacts about indigenous Ecuadorians and a hive of science activities linked to the equator line...

  • Telling the time using different sundials - Ecuadorians have a different set up to the norm.  They can do this because of where Ecuador sits...on the Equator, this type of sundial wouldn't work for us.  One side of the sundial is used when north of the equator line, one, south of the equator line.

  • We saw which way the water went down a plug hole
    • on the line - straight down
    • Southern - clockwise
    • Northern - anti-clockwise
  • There was also an experiment to try and balance an egg on a nail...you get a certificate if you can manage this, about half our group managed this, I wasn´t one of them unfortunately.


We also saw the real equator line, a red line going through this point...

After the tour I´d made some friends with some other people too and headed back to Quito with them, little did I know but I would meet one of them again in Latacunga, following my trek and travel to Baños with them!  Its a small world.

That evening, Jamie and I thought we´d head out for dinner on our last evening before heading off in separate directions again, however, we were both having to stick to strange diets which really didn´t mix, I was still craving meat, and there was only certain things Jamie could eat (vegetables mainly). Luckily enough Quito restaurants cater for us strange ones and we were able to order food from 2 different restaurants for takeaway before heading back to the hostel and eating together! Perfect!

I ummmed and ahhhed whether to leave the following day to go on the Quilotoa Loop as I was still tired from the farm, and starting to feel extremely lazy! We headed to an art gallery/exhibition/site of a famous Ecuadorian painter and sculpture, Oswaldo Guayasamin, named La Capilla del Hombre about the harshness of the Latin American lifestyle.  It was pretty tough going but I´m really glad we went.

In the end I took the plunge, grabbing a cab to the bus terminal at 32 times the price ($8 cab vs 25 cents on the bus) and heading off to climb a volcano! 

Tags: bus rides, centre of the earth, crazy bus rides, ecuador, mitad al mundo, quito

 

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