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Journals from Universidad de San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) Ecuador

2013-09-06 La Mitad del Mundo

Sometimes you just have to accept your role as a foreigner in another country and let yourself be the tourist. With that in mind, a group of fellow Oregonians and I decided to visit La Mitad del Mundo, also known as the equator, which is one of the more tourist-oriented attractions in Ecuador. The process of finding the correct buses was an adventure in itself, and along the way we stumbled upon an open-air market where we bought moras (blackberries), tamarindo (tamarind), and granadilla (a fruit with squishy, seedy insides that look like a cluster of frog eggs). After we left the market the necessary bus stop was just across the street, which may sound simple enough, but the general disregard for traffic laws here makes every crossing a gamble for one’s life. Luckily the stakes were in our favor, and we made it on the bus just fine.

La Mitad itself was expectedly touristy, though fun in the most gimmicky way possible. It’s actually a collection of museums, restaurants, playgrounds, and shops selling the same exact collections of tchotchkes. Then, of course, there is the huge monument. The interesting thing about this monument is that it, as well as the long yellow line beneath it supposedly marking the equator, is actually in the wrong place. Thus, once we’d taken the requisite photos with the monument, we went and found the correct spot, which happens to be marked by a small sign in the middle of a tiny fenced-off lawn.

I’m not sure whether the complete lack of attention given to the correct and thoroughly unimpressive spot speaks to human nature or just ignorance of its existence. It’s likely a combination of both. In any case, soon after we’d finished being underwhelmed by the real equator, we decided to stop playing tourist and headed back to Quito and the promise of homework. 

- Chloe Shields

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