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“A successful bus journey to the Middle of the World…”


So after our ten mile trek round Quito, Thursday was going to be slightly more laid back. We left our hostel in the afternoon and got a map from the desk to show us where to get the bus from. It was about a mile and a half away. Despite the fact that Wednesday was a lot cooler than we were used to, which meant we ventured out in trousers, it did get a bit too warm so we were back to shorts on Thursday. We had no idea which side to catch the bus from or what time it would arrive so we walked over the bridge to the centre and asked in the El Tejar ticket booth. She told us to wait where we were. Soon enough a bus emblazoned with Mitad Del Munro pulled up and it was a race to get on and find a seat. We didn’t pay or have a ticket so just sat observing. Eventually a guy came along and asked for money. We handed over $1 and got 20 cents change. Not bad, 80 cents for an hour bus ride to the Middle of the World. We also had no idea where to get off. We could see the monument getting closer and then it seemed the bus was turning away from it. So what could we do except get off?

We didn’t realise we were about a mile away from it. A mile, all uphill. It was hot today too so thank god we didn’t wear trousers. It was nearly 2pm so we found a cute little pizzeria across the road from the monument and grabbed a pizza for $4 each. Ecuador has proven to be really quite cheap! Taxis, busses, KFC, pizza, beer etc, all of it for only a couple of dollars. After we ate, we headed to the ticket booth. We only wanted a ticket to the monument, but ended up getting a full pass for $7.50 each. It allowed us entry into all the museums etc. We underestimated how much there was at the monument. As we walked in, there’s a long street, lined with statues, leading up to the monument.It wasn’t hugely busy, not until we reached the monument and the equatorial line. It was literally a line too, bright yellow going all the way through this ‘park.’ The line was swarming with people trying to get the perfect selfie, holding up the globe, straddling the equator, etc etc. You could also go up into it. The views were magnificent.You could see mountains, north, south, east and west. It was beautiful. As we climbed back down the stairs we walked through a museum showing sections about space, the building, the clothes, a real mixture. It was quite intriguing though. As we exited, there were less people surrounding the monument so we walked all around the equator.The town of Pichincha own the land this monument is situated on, 26km north of Quito. Ecuador takes its name from the fact it sits on the equator. The monument, sits 30m high and was constructed between 1979 and 1982. The yellow line above divides the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. There’s lots of discrepancies about the equator and the exact coordinates. There are two exact points that the equator passes through, the Catequilla archaeological site and the Quitsato sundial, allegedly, however the true equator lies about 300m north of the yellow line. The Mitad del Mundo, was built to replace a smaller statue of the French explorer Luis Gudiño, who discovered the equators coordinates during a 1736 expedition.We tried to find the location of the equator which lies 300m north of the monument, but ended up walking in the wrong direction, entering the UNASUR headquarters, exiting the park only to then re-enter it, located the bathrooms, in which you had to pay 25 cents for a piece of toilet paper. You’d think paying $7.50 would include that right? Clearly not. Eventually we found our bearings.We ended up walking along the main road a few hundred metres until we actually saw a sign for the Intiñan Solar Museum. By this time it was 4pm and we walked the short distance up a dirt track, not quite knowing if we were going in the right direction, until we found the booth that said $4 entry. There wasn’t anyone there to take our money so we just waltzed on in. Luckily, the sign was just inside the gates. We snapped away quickly and made a hasty exit.Saved ourselves $8 there! Now we had to figure out how to get a bus back to town. There was a bus sign by the second entrance to the Mitad del Mundo so we waited there. We couldn’t actually remember where we got the bus from at that point but a bus pulled up saying ‘Miraflores,’ so we hopped on, hoping it would take us in the general vicinity. Another 80 cents and an hour later, we jumped off, not knowing where we were at all. The plan was to grab a taxi back to the hostel, but we decided to walk instead. After all the $2.50 a taxi would cost, if not more, we could out towards beer. Plus, we enjoyed walking round these wasn’t as nice as the historic district, nor the posher part of town, but we just had to find our way to the Basilica del Voto Nacional, then, it would just be a straight road back to the hostel. We walked up the steepest hill I think I’ve ever walked up, without breaking a sweat. This was some serious progress.It might not look that steep in the photo, but my god it was. Turned out too, that we didn’t need to walk up it, as we could have gone another way that would have brought us to the exact same spot. Still, we found a random park at the top which had views over the top of the basilica.Oh I so love Quito. The difference between the Mariscal and the historic old parts of town. The fact we’d either be walking uphill or downhill in the historic district. The beautifully stunning churches and cathedrals. Loved it all. We got back to our hostel and chilled for a while before getting an early night, nearly twenty miles walked in two days. That’s the longest for a while, except Panama City. We were woken at 230am, by some guests arguing with the hosts about not wanting to stay in a room and spend more money than a dorm. They were so unbelievably loud so Nathan went out and told them to shut the hell up. Thankfully they did, but they resumed talking in their booming voices at about 6am. Friday would be our last day in Quito, and our last day in Ecuador. The plan was to take a taxi to El Panecillo. We started walking in the general direction of El Panecillo and hailed a taxi near Santo Domingo. It only cost $2.25 and was all uphill for about twenty minutes until we reached the top.There were people dressed in bright colours performing some sort of dance at the top. There were also several artisan booths as well as food booths too. The entrance into the monument was $1 each and feature magnificent stained glassed windows and a view to die for.El Panecillo is a 200 metre high hill with volcanic origin. Atop the hill, is another statue based on the Virgen de Quito. It is made from aluminium and was inaugurated in 1976. It is 45 metres high.The views from up the top were incredible. I swear you could see most of the city.So that concludes our whirlwind tour of Ecuador, the country home to the Middle of the World city. It’s been quick-ish, but amazing all the same. As I write this, we are waiting for our 38 hour bus journey down to Lima, Peru. Speak to you all next week.

Until next time…

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