The guide also led us through a little museum (a collection of shacks really) with a few exhibits of traditional indigenous items, the most disturbing of which was a real human shrunken head
! No joking, there was a tribe around here who practiced this, and there were very graphic posters illustrating exactly how the heads were cut from the bodies of slain enemies, dipped in some sort of liquid to soften the skull, the brains pulled out, then filled with an herb paste, sewn up, and left to dry in the sun for ten days. The result is a shrivelled head about the size of a softball which is then decorated with earrings, ribbons, etc, and worn around the neck as a talisman. Ewwwww!
The exhibits also included various gigantic snakeskins pinned to the wall, and all kinds of smaller snakes, rodents, and insects preserved in jars. Yuck. To top it all off, we were invited to try our skill at wielding a traditional gigantic blowgun. The thing was seriously about 10 feet long and so heavy that it was a challenge just to lift it up, let along aim at the cactus target. We had to take turns trying it out while wearing a silly feathered hunting headdress. I discovered that my blowdart skills, much like my golfing abilities, are quite strong in the distance department, but sorely lacking in accuracy!
Went out to see La Mitad del Mundo (Centre of the World) this morning - a cheesy tourist attraction just 25 kms or so outside of Quito. It's the site of the official equator line where you can stand with one foot in each hemisphere. Ï went out with a few other people who, like me, have stayed a couple of days beyond the official tour. A guide was mandatory (tips extra, of course), but it was quite amusing really, as he took us through a number of experiments and demonstrations. The first was watching water drain through a sink - straight down on the the equator line and the appropriate direction clockwise or counter when the sink was moved just a few feet away from the line on either side. Another was balancing an egg on top of a nail, which half of the group was able to do, but I, with my limited patience, was not one of them.