Today we went to the biggest tourist attraction in Ecuador. Any guesses as to what it was?
If you guessed the equator, you are correct! Mitad del Mundo is exactly the tourist trap that one would envision. There’s the entrance fee, the high priced restaurants and souvenir shops, and of course the photo opps. But aside from all that it was a pretty cool place.
As we walked in there was an indigenous “village” with different types of houses typically found in the various regions of Ecuador. If you are unfamiliar with the different regions, let me educate you. The Andes run down the middle of Ecuador and are the country’s highlands. To the east there’s the oriente, in which lies the jungle and is the beginning of the Amazon basin. West of the Andes are the coastal lowlands. Since the geography is so vastly different the indigenous people from each of these areas vary as well.
We happened to be the only ones there, so the woman who worked in that section was able to give us the Grand Tour and answer all of our questions. It was a nice glimpse for all of us to see the similarities and differences in the native homes.
After leaving the village we came upon a chocolate museum which covered the history and cultivation of chocolate. The boys had a wonderful time grinding the seeds into powder.
Finally we made it to the monument marking the equator. We did the tourist thing that everyone must do and then went inside the monument. Inside an elevator takes you to the top to provide views of the mountains all around.
After the views you then go downstairs a level at a time since they have a museum set up that covers a great variety of information. It goes through the first geodesic mission to Ecuador funded by Louis XV of France. There are interesting interactive displays about the seasons, the earth’s gravitational pull, the magnetic poles, and the coriolis effect. It was a one of a kind learning experience that I hope they’ll remember.
We were all hungry after walking all day, and Israel had seen a restaurant that had cuy near the bus stop. Cuy is what they call guinea pig here and indigenous people from the Andes have been raising these cute and cuddly animals for meat for thousands of years. It’s one of those native foods that we have been waiting to try. Jovani and Judah had no interest in tasting the delicious barbecued rodent since they have befriended quite a few on this trip. We respected their wishes, mainly because it left more for us. Israel and I really enjoyed the flavor, but Joaquin did not. His refined palate prefers other tastes.
We’re getting exhausted from being on the go all the time. Tomorrow is our last touristy day here since on Thursday we have Jovani’s dr. appointment and we’ll spend the rest of the day packing. We’re all looking forward to some down time.