Standing on the Equator
Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
88Trip End Feb 01, 2005
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The day before my birthday I went to the Saquilisi market, which is supposed to be the most indigenous market in Ecuador, with Lisa from my hostel. The indigenous people were dressed so amazingly. The women wore pleated kneelength skirts with long woolly socks pulled up to their knees and black slip on leather shoes. They wore cardigans and then pinned colourful shawls around their shoulders. Some had babies strapped to their backs and it was all topped off with a felt bowler hat. They looked awesome!!
It wasn`t very touristy and we wandered around the stalls selling everything from bits of rope, to vegetables, to live animals, hats and all sorts of things
We had lunch in the dodgy looking food area of the market. We were surrounded by roasted pig heads and other strange looking bits of meat. I was a little bit worried about the quality of the food so decided against meat and went for a bit of salad with mashed potato and an egg. Lisa had finished her meal and this old lady came up and put the chicken bones and all the chicken scraps in a plastic bag and walked off.
I went back to Quito with a French couple we had met on the bus as Lisa was heading to Latacunga. While we were standing watching the roof of the bus get loaded up, we saw the conductor shucking a live sheep over his shoulders and climbing the ladder to the roof. He tied the sheep on and went to get the other one. I had to have a look at the sheep on the roof and couldn`t believe that they were just going to stand on the roof while the driver negotiated the potholes. I was surprised when the owners got off the bus and led both sheep away on a lead as I thought at least one sheep would end up with a broken leg.
I then had a look around the Old Town of Quito with Jonathon and Elise. There are stacks of churches and the Old Town was quite hilly, unlike the New Town which is pretty flat. I had to take the hills pretty slowly as they were hard. The centre is nice with lots of colonial buildings and plazas.
Back at the hostel I arrived to the whole place covered with streamers
I slept until about 10:30am on my birthday and then went out for breakfast at the Magic Bean. I had a tortilla with eggs and beans and then headed to the internet cafe to pick up some birthday greetings. With a spring in my step I was off to the bus stop and on my way to Mitad del Mundo.
There are two museums and locations. One is the real one and is very small and the other is a massive monument built by the French in the incorrect position. I went to the real equator first, where the small museum tells you about indigenous people and is interactive. I saw a shrunken head of a 12 year old boy which was the size of my fist. Then I got use a blowpipe and aim for a cactus leaf
Next I went to the monument. It was $1 to get in and then to go to the planetarium and up the monument it cost extra so I didn`t bother with that. I went to the solar museum where I got a very interesting explanation about how for the indigenous people the sun was the most important god and they celebrated the equinox and had all these mathematical equations in their buildings. The guy also told me that the reason the Incas expanded their empire north was to be closer to the equator so they could worship the sun god. I`m doubtful that they expanded for religious reasons as from my readings so far, they were a violent, aggressive culture and they wanted to conquer other tribes to have their expertise and the produce available in other regions. And besides, how would they have known where the equator was, that the earth was round and there were other lands besides South America.
I was in the lounge room in the hostel when Kayte who I met in San Francisco came in
Things I learned
* I`m good at games
* The equator, tropics of Capricorn and Cancer and the equinox lines form a star shaped pattern used in a lot of weavings and other things
* The churches in Quito all lie on one of the equinox lines and some of them were designed to show light on certain things at different times of the day.