Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mitad del Mundo

The most popular tourist destination of Ecuador?
Mitad del Mundo!

Guess that most simply translates to "Middle of the World."

On Thursday, Pato ever so graciously took Paolita and I to Mitad del Mundo - around an hour from where the C family lives in Quito. The drive, in Ecuador, to me seems to be half of any event. Lane lines are frequently ignored and horns the quick go-to in terms of communication.

For the sensory seeker in me, I love it. I have full faith in those who drive me around and enjoy weaving in and out of traffic in a way that would make me cringe in the United States. That's the great thing about traveling, you see new ways to do things and accept them for what they are and go with it. I've gotten used to motorcycles coming alongside the car and seeing folks chilling in the back of trucks while going 40 and 50 mph.

The paths of the roads in Ecuador are super rad. They curve and wind up and down around hills at a relentless pace. If it weren't for the traffic, I'd probably ask if I could get behind the wheel for a bit.

Mitad del Mundo is what it sounds like, the center of the world --- 0°00′07″S 78°27′21″W.

It's supposed to be at 0 degrees latitude but recently they discovered that the real line is around .15 miles north of where they marked. Tourists don't care about that, though, and it's pretty close.

This is where the Northern hemisphere meets the Southern hemisphere, which is quite the concept. This is the equator. It's right, right here...

...right here give or take 240 meters.

Mitad del Mundo is rad --- but also totally, totally a tourist trap which mans it's just overflowing with humans getting pictures taken of themselves over... and over.. and over... and over. It sort of felt awkward, to me. One picture is cool --- but at one point, it seems like the entire point is to have pictures of yourself which isn't, isn't why I travel. I travel to see, to experience. Not sure if I'm expressing this right. Not hating on pictures, but just expanding I don't need that many of myself. They kept offering to take pictures of me and I kept saying, "Naw, I'm ok."

Here's a collection of pictures of pictures being taken:

And here's our crew:

Besides standing on the almost-equator, there was a museum which was pretty interesting. I liked learning about the creation of the monument (behind us --- which is also the 9ish story tall museum). Getting that 9-ton ball on the top was quite the feet back in the early, early 90s.

They made a whole city to go with the monument complete with lots of tourist shops, restaurants, a planetarium, museum, plaza, chapel, and gardens all over.

There was quite a view from the top of the monument. Views from above will never, never get old.

We were coaxed into a restaurant for lunch. I went for a plate that had a few salads on it, fried plantain, boiled corn, a bean soup, and this other thing that I'm awful at describing. When traveling, I generally try to pack in the salads whenever possible because it's so, so easy to eat a lot of foods that make me feel not-so-great as I attempt to try the local dishes. Luckily, Jorge's family eats so, so well and healthy -- lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, so I haven't felt sick once. An hour later, we chased it down with some sorbet. The sorbet I got was from a fruit called "tomate de árbol" which I'd never tasted before.

Exploring Mitad del Mundo was my first attempt, since mono hit me hard, to wander around for a few hours. It was really encouraging! We were definitely on our feet a lot and my energy stayed strong. Even though I've been feeling better than I've felt in a while, I'm still keeping things low-key 'cause that's how mono is. You feel better, push it, and then get sick again. I'm not pushing it - no sir.

I'm grateful to be here and in such fine company. This travel style is totally different from what I'm used to but I dig it. It's nice, especially while having mono, to have other folks figure things out so I really can take it easy. It's nice to be around people I adore to joke around with. This trip is about connecting with the humans more than anything else and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to do that.

I'll leave you with a small collage I made of photographs that Paulita took with her phone:

Be well!

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