72 hours in Quito, Ecuador

I’ve had a wonderful time here in Quito, Ecuador. It’s a beautiful country and while the city is known to be dangerous I’ve had only friendly and welcoming encounters. My Spanish is pretty rusty, but I knew enough to get by! It’s Tuesday night, tomorrow morning I will fly to the coast to meet the ship which leaves port on Friday. For now here are some highlights from my past three days in Quito.

Day 1. Explore the city

I spent Sunday at Centro Histórico, the historic neighborhood of Quito. The Catholic church has a strong presence in Ecuador and the historic part of town is filled with elaborate churches and altars that are open to tourists. This part of town is closed to vehicles on Sundays and the streets are filled with families, street dancers and performers.

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 At la Basílica, a church in downtown Quito.

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Crowd gathered around an improv performance in the historical center.

Day 2. Climb a mountain 

On Monday I climbed Volcano Corazón 15,708 ft (see previous post).

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One happy hiker!

Day 3. Stand in two hemispheres at the same time…sort of

My last day in Quito I visited Mitad del Mundo, the middle of the world. This monument marks the equator, 0 degrees latitude 0 minutes 0 seconds. There is a long yellow line painted on the cement walkway so tourists can stand in two hemispheres at once. But according to modern day technology, the actual equator lies hundreds of feet away! The first monument built at this location was constructed in 1936 and by 1979 when the monument standing today was constructed, the geographical error was known. The ground at the real equator line, however, is not suitable for a monument of this size so the original location was maintained. There is a museum, Inti-ñan, that celebrates the GPS calculated equator line, it’s within walking distance of the Mitad del Mundo monument if you want to get it spot on (unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to visit). For more info, check out this article from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/world/americas/in-ecuador-center-of-the-earth-is-a-little-off-kilter.html?_r=0

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Mitad del Mundo monument.

On the way to Mitad del Mundo, I stopped at Pululahua Volcano, one of two inhabited volcano craters in the world (the other is in Malaysia). The last major eruption at Pululahua occurred 2,500 years ago, today it sits dormant and mineral rich soil formed by volcanic ash supports agriculture within the 5 km wide crater.

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Pululahua Volcano – Pululahua means “cloud of water,” fertile soil and moist air from the high elevation create excellent growing conditions for farmers. Here you can see the outline of crops where potatoes and corn are grown.

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