Sunday Special – The Equator, Ecuador

Remember geography class where you learned about the (imaginary)line of the equator? It splits the earth right in half into north and south and the magnetic pulls cause water to drain in opposing directions. I have been fascinated with straddling this line for quite some time, to be in two places at once, so to speak. Also, to lie and stand on the belly of the earth. My association of Ecuador and the equator is probably greater than the other numerous countries that this line dissects. I have pictured myself straddling the line at Cuidad Mitad del Mundo, a government owned park found 26km / 16 miles north of the Ecuadorian capital of Quito. Taking a selfie while lying perfectly in the centre. Jumping over the line from north to south and back again. Checking out the Monument to Equator and the like. So it was a bit of a surprise to learn that this park and the yellow line they laid down is actually not on the equator. Oops!

Several years ago it was discovered, through modern GPS accuracy, that this locale that was once thought to be the ‘middle of the earth’ is in fact not. It was originally believed to have been in the correct spot, at 0° 0’ 0” latitude. They were wrong. A bit of a let down to all those who went before. The equator actually lies about 240 metres /  262.5 yards north. So is the correct location visitor friendly and I go and do all those silly things I really want to do?  I think so. A quick drive to Initan Solar Museum claims to be at the correct location as measured by GPS. In my research it appears that the location is more accurate than that of the government park, but the tricks they show, such as balancing an egg on a nail and water draining straight down a sink, are not based in concrete science.

So in the end I am a bit perplexed. Will this thwart my plan to see both Equatorial tourist sites? Probably not. I’m curious enough to want to see both. Plus Ecuador has much more to see and experience (I hear there is a big swing that flies over a cliff or something which piques my interest). Just to be sure that I have straddled the equator perhaps I should also visit Colombia, Kenya, São Tomé and Príncipe, Indonesia or other countries that the equator traverses. Another reason to travel (insert smiley face). 

Monument to the Equator (Mitad del Mundo), Ecuador. Photo is public domain


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