High in the Sky, in the Middle of the World

It was our last day in Quito and Elliott and I figured it might be a very low-key day. We had done a lot during our first two days, and everything else was a distance from the city center. We even made big plans for us, our bathtub, and the afternoon back in our hotel.

But Dad and Ann were still full of energy and rarin’ to go. We hopped in a taxi and asked to be taken to the TeleferiQo. The TeleferiQo is a cable car system that holds six people per car and goes from 3050m (10,006 ft) at the lower slopes of Volcan Pichincha up to the peak of Cruz Loma at 4050m (13,287 ft). It’s west of Quito and quite a climb in the taxi even to the base of the TeleferiQo! Not only is the sky ride a blast (and the eight noiseless minutes in there feel like forever), at the top you are rewarded with amazing views of Ecuador’s capital and the three volcanoes that ring it (Cayambe, Antisana and Cotopaxi). It’s cold and easy to feel light-headed if you’re not careful and used to high altitude. We hung out a while up there, visiting all the lookout points and just trying to take it all in. Meanwhile a musician was nearby playing his Andean flute music, which made the whole experience surreal. We hiked a tiny bit with Ann and picked up two CDs before we went back in the Visitor Center to find Dad.

Elliott found a taxi driver at the top and negotiated a rate with him to go back to Old Town. But once we were in the car and I asked everyone what they wanted to do, we quickly changed our destination to the Mitad del Mundo, or Middle of the World. It may be hokey, but wouldn’t you want to see the marker that divides the northern and southern hemispheres and gives the country of Ecuador its name, especially if you had traveled all the way to Quito and were sooo close by?

Since we were changing directions on our driver, he decided he wanted to get in on the route planning too and told us there is another place tourists like to go that wasn’t too far out of the way. I looked up Pululahua Crater in our guide book as we were mulling it over, and mentioned to the driver that the book says it is not worth going in the afternoon because clouds always take over as morning passes. He assured us that the clouds were only in Quito, and the crater was sunny. Uh-huh. Check out our awesome photos:

Luckily he had only charged us an extra $5 for that excursion, and overall, Dad felt we were getting a great rate on the taxi. So we let it go and got excited about our trip to the Middle of the World. Elliott and I had been to a monument marking the Equator in the middle of the Amazon jungle last year, and thought this would be fun for Dad and Ann. But the little monument in the jungle had nothing on this one! This one is HUGE.

So huge, there is literally a museum about Ecuador’s indigenous populations INSIDE of it. We did check that out a bit, but we’d done lots of historical and cultural museum stuff in the past few days. So we spent most of our time having fun on the OUTSIDE. Outside, where there is a thick yellow line representing the equator that starts at the base of the monument and runs the length of the complex, even down the aisle of the small chapel there!

And this was not just some monument. No, it was nothing short of a complex, with different types of entry tickets for purchase! I think it took us five minutes to figure out which type of admission to buy! There were tons of stores, and restaurants, little museums, snack stands, and some other stuff I can’t even tell you about because we didn’t have the whole day, which could be spent in this complex. We did find some llamas, though they weren’t nearly as excited about us as we were about them!

 

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