Today, I hired a taxi for the entire day to see the sights around the PIchincha countryside. First, we went to La Midad del Mundo, or Middle of the World Monument. It is a geological monument where the equator separates the northern and southern hemispheres. My driver, Fanny and I walked all around and took pictures of the monument in the background with us straddling the equatorial line.
Next we went to Inti Ñan which is the "real" place where the equator slices through the earth. We took a great tour and the guide explained about the Quichua culture, Amazon rites with shrunken heads and many experiments to show how things are different at the equator, One such experiment was to stand a raw egg on the head of a nail and I actually saw some people do it! I, of course, you guessed it, couldn't.
Afterward, we went to TeleferiQo, which is a 15 minute cable car ride to Cruz Loma on the eastern face of the Pichincha Volcano and about 4,300 meters in an enclosed cable car. The view going up is spectacular because the city of Quito was in bright sunshine below and at the top, it is cold, rainy and cloudy. You can barely see your hand in front of your face. If you aren't careful, it is possible to get lost! As we descended, it began to rain in earnest.
We were fairly hungry, so we found a vegetarian restaurant near the hotel (Hey! I had to find one! lol) and concluded our tour, just as the rain beat down, at the Botanical Gardens of Carolina Park. This park houses a Vivarium with snakes and amphibians of all sizes, shapes and colors. It is one of the largest parks in South America. Unfortunately, you can´t walk around in it very safely at night. None the less, it was gorgeous. So many flowers and plants that you will only find in Ecuador. Even the rain didn't dampen my spirits.
As my time in Quito has come to an end, for now, I know that it is on to the Galapagos and more adventures tomorrow.