The Equator is an endless source of fascination for those of us who grew up in the northern (or southern) latitudes, particularly here in Oregon where a short drive from Portland to Eugene takes you across the 45th Parallel — the halfway mark between the Equator and the North Pole.
With the speed of modern aircraft and the rate at which people are traveling abroad these days, you’d think that this invisible line circumscribing the earth might have lost its intrigue for us long ago. But it’s still a long way down to the middle of the world, and of the 24,900 miles of Equator, less than a quarter of those miles are land–the vast majority of which being uninhabited jungle. And then, there’s Ecuador — one of three countries in the world where a visit to 0°0′0″ is just a short drive from the capital city (the other two being Gabon and Uganda).
So, when we found ourselves in Quito, there was no doubt that we were going to be paying the Mitad del Mundo a visit.
Did you know that the Equator is not actually fixed, but constantly changing? Indeed, the equatorial plane is always fixed to the Earth’s spin axis, but the axis actually drifts about 30 feet each year! This, coupled with the fact that the placement of the current monument outside of Quito was based on imperfect 18th century technology, means that you don’t take what you see here as Gospel. However, the nearby Quitsato Sundial (not shown here), constructed in 2006, is about as spot on as you can get.
But that’s not all! Across the street from the monument is the real place you’ve secretly been wanting to visit all these years: The Intiñan Museum…home of the “true” equator. Heard the stories of balancing eggs and reverse spinning drains? This is where all of your equatorial dreams come true.