January 03, 2012 (Mitad Del Mundo)
We started out on a day tour of natural sites outside of Quito. First stop was at the Pululahua Volcanic Crater west of Quito city limits. We were lucky to get there just in time before the cloud settled over the mountain.
This is still a dormant volcano that is reported to be 3,300 meters in elevation; and it is millions of years old with the last major eruption about 2,000 years ago.
If you click on large image and zoom in to the center of the photo, you can see the first Hacienda (a missionary estate) that was built. It is now used as a hostel.
Volcanic soil is very fertile and thus there is active farming on the crater. The elevations also house one of the magnificent cloud forests in the region. This forest has some unique species not found elsewhere such as the Spectacle bears, Cincaju bear, monkey bear, Cock-of-the-rock and the Wooly monkey.
Our next stop was to the Inti Ñan Museum the official museum of the Equator line (that’s where the country gets its name Ecuador). Inti Ñan is quiti word for middle earth line.
Over here you are able to perform fascinating scientific tests which only hold true at the equator such as balancing an egg on a nail and witnessing the Coriolis Force that sends falling water in different directions in each hemisphere.
Can you guess the time? Its showing 12:35 PM. Exact time on our watches!!!!!!
In theory, the egg is supposed to balance on the nail due to gravity force at the center. However doing it is not easy.
This was amazing. We were asked to close our eyes and walk right on the equator line. We could not without falling over. Then we attempted same on just other side of the line and we could do it!!! Do you know why? The force of the gravity is in perfect balance at the equator line, however our mind is not. So like balancing the egg, it is hard to stay in balance since you have opposing forces pulling you. However the moment you step on to either side of the line, you have majority of the force pulling from that side thus your mind is able to adjust for imbalance force and keep you stable.
See that kid at the bottom. Of all the things we saw on this trip, this kid was the most dangerous thing we saw. Don’t let that cute face fool you. Any attempt to get any closer than from where the photo was taken will lead to the loudest longest shrillest scream in the world, enough to shake the gravity pull at the equator line.
The official equator monument was first built in the 1700s by French explorers and was replaced with a new replica in the 20th century as shown in the pic above. Did you know that for the longest time the equator line was wrong. The real equator line is located 240 meters north of here (at the Inti Ñan Museum site) which was discovered in recent decades with introduction of GPS navigation systems.
However!!!!!A very very very long time ago the natives living here had in fact discovered the center line of the earth and there stands a monument to this date which is on the exact path as the real equator line. This monument was only recently discovered by authorities and they are in process of turning it in to visitor center.
This was taken at the base of the Gondola (Teleforico). Unfortunately by the time we reach the summit, the entire mountain was covered by the clouds and no visibility to see the spectacular view of Quito. However you can get a little glimpse of it in the next photo.
Christian was a great guide and shared a lot of information with us on the different cultural and historical aspects of Ecuador. He is also a Naturalista who has done extensive expeditions with tourists on the Andes ranges as well as in the Amazon forest. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
He recommended the following films pertaining to Ecuador and Amazon forest:
End of the spear – A Hollywood film about the Waodani tribe of Amazon forest.
At Tus Espaldas – A Spanish film about Quito.
Proof of life – A Hollywood film starring Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe.