Equinox at the Equator – South America

Pululahua Crater

Pululahua Crater

Late night was turning into early
morning and I had knives in my eyes. Having spent the last several hours out on the town, I found myself
still in Quito’s Mariscal district (center of the country’s nightlife), feeling
my lids get heavier as I struggled to watch a couple of my TESOL (Teaching
English to Speakers of Other Languages) classmates devour bursting tacos on a
now lifeless street. My eyes popped open
though, when I overheard my pals discussing their plans for later that day.

My friend,
Rozana, abruptly mentioned that her host mother, Raquel, was taking her to the Mitad del Mundo
the following day. And Rachel, another
fellow Language Corps teacher, excitedly said that she was going on the trip too. A tad jealous, my envy soon stopped when
Rozana brought up the fact that her mom was willing to take TWO of her
friends. Almost before she finished her
sentence, I, therefore, claimed the last seat available for the Sunday ride to
the equator.

Museo de Sitio Intiñan

Museo de Sitio Intiñan

It was almost
noon, when Rachel, Rozana
and I headed north of Quito
in a small SUV driven by Raquel. Still,
before we arrived at the Mitad del Mundo, the feisty, middle-aged Ecuadorian
purposely overshot the landmark by five kilometers, taking us to the lip of the
enormous Pululahua Crater. With the midday sun blazing above, my two
friends and I stared in awe at the several acres of verdant farmland that
covered what used to be the source of bubbling lava. It was hard to believe that a dormant
caldera could create such a breathtaking scene.

After
gazing into the colossal crater, we then visited the nearby Museo de Sitio
Intiñan (Museum of the Path of the Sun), and discovered that we happened to be
there on a special day – the Fall Equinox.
Besides ogling the museum’s vast and impressive collection of local
plants, as well as cultural artifacts, Rozana, Rachel, and I (Raquel relaxed by
the entrance) watched an indigenous dance performance, which was
given to celebrate the Equinox. The owners declared that the real equator sliced through their
museum. I had a hard time not accepting
their claim, however, after balancing an egg on a nail, watching water drain in
all directions (clockwise, counter-clockwise and straight down), as well as trying
to walk a tightrope with my eyes shut on what they had marked as the planet’s
waistline.

Museo de Sitio Intiñan

Museo de Sitio Intiñan

Lastly, our
spunky chauffer drove us to the Mitad del Mundo monument. While Raquel watched a concert on a nearby
stage, I, along with Rozana and Rachel, ambled along a red line that represented
the middle of the earth. We took
turns snapping pictures of the large brick monument, which pushed a giant stone
globe into the Ecuadorian sky. In
addition, we even watched a show at the site’s planetarium. Nevertheless, the three of us didn’t do any
cool tests at this site to prove that we were actually on the great circle.

Despite the
lack of intriguing trials at the earth’s other waistband, Rozana, Rachel and I
couldn’t complain; we had no reason to. The
three of us were at the middle of the world, straddling the hemispheres on a
day like no other. All in all, we had just
enjoyed an afternoon that most people never get to experience.

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