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In the Middle...

locating the equator

sunny

Leaving Mompiche was made a bit tricky as there were no buses, thankfully though a man with a pick up gave us a lift up to the main road.
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Here we hailed down a bus which took us to Chamanga where we immediately boarded another bus to Pedernales. The Ecuator is meant to cut through Pedernales so after a bite to eat we went off in search of a monument which is meant to mark its location. Unfortunately though none of the tricycle drivers understood what we were asking for and conscious that we still had quite a distance to travel that day we had to give up the hunt. Instead we decided we would visit a more significant monument in Quito. The next bus took us as far as Santo Domingo and here we bought a ticket for Machachi where we intended to spend the night.

As this intended last bus of the day sped along we began to get increasingly concerned that it wasn't going to stop in Machachi and when I saw a sign which said “best cakes in Quito” I knew we had gone to far. It was now about 8pm and we were knackered, we tried to explain our annoyance to the bus boy but he just pointed us towards another bus which thankfully was going to Machachi. The fourth bus of the day took us to our destination and it only took an hour so it could have been worse. After wandering aimlessly around the dark streets without passing one hotel we managed to get our second pick up of the day to take us to a hotel. It was actually a pretty good find, the room was spacious and relatively cheap. With our stuff stowed in the room we hurried out to buy a whole spit roasted chicken for dinner from one of the numerous Pollo Asado restaurants. We must have consumed over a hundred whole chickens between us on this trip!

Our reason for being in Machachi was to see the Volcan Cotopaxi which is meant to be a perfect snow capped cone. You can climb it if you like or visit the national park which surrounds it but it turned out to be a very expensive trip and we could find no clear information about day trips. In the end our first day in Machachi was spent lazing around. I was absolutely knackered and in need of a lazy day. We walked in to Machachi to buy some food and it was a pleasant enough town but it didn't seem in any way geared towards tourism. We had considered visiting a tour agency to get some more details about trips to Cotopaxi but we couldn't find any. In hindsight we probably should have caught the bus to Latacunga, a town about 30 minutes further south that day because the sky was fairly cloud free which is rare and there would have been good views of Cotopaxi from the bus. Instead we went the following day which was cloudy so we didn't see anything on the way there.

We stayed one night in Latacunga, a fairly scruffy town and not as either of us had imagined. The descriptions in the guidebook seemed to have been a bit off the mark as far as Ecuador was concerned. For this reason we found ourselves very uninspired and couldn't muster the energy to do much exploring in Latacunga. We walked along the busy shopping streets a little bit and ate a massive bowl of fish soup for lunch but that was about it. In the morning it was a little clearer and so we walked out of the centre in the direction we guessed Cotopaxi to be. We saw some distant hills but no sign of the massive volcano which the guidebook said was 'much in evidence.' In the end we gave up and went to catch the bus to Quito. Thankfully we had a little better luck here as we did spot it out of the window, not quite as impressive as we'd thought but we were glad we'd seen it.
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Unfortunately the next hour or so was a bit stressful as we realised we'd left Adam's mobile, with my sim card in it at the hotel so we had to jump off the bus and return to Latacunga. Luck was on our side and the honest hotel employees handed it over and finally with all our possessions we were on our way to the capital.

Neither of us were really in the mood for a big city and so we decided we would just visit the equator monument which is just outside Quito and then move straight on to a town called Otavalo about two hours further north. Getting to the monument was really time consuming as we had to catch a local bus from the south to the north of the city and it took us a while to figure out the slightly confusing system they have in place. On the up side though it did mean we got a whistle stop tour through the centre which actually looked quite pretty. When we finally reached the northern bus terminal where buses to Otavalo left from we were forced to take a taxi to the monument as it was beginning to get quite late.

The equator monument was surprisingly busy as there seemed to be some kind of promotional function in progress.
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It was built before GPS and is actually about 150m off to the South. After finding a quiet spot away from the crowds we snapped a few photos ignoring the slight latitudinal error and then the hunt for the true equator began.
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There is another monument which was built after the invention of GPS but you had to pay extra to get in there so we just looked through a fence and anyway according to the GPS on Adam's phone it's in the wrong spot.
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He really wanted to get his phone to say Latitude 0.00 but we were on the clock as our taxi was waiting and as we would find out later when he demanded extra money for us being all of three minutes late he really was counting the seconds. I went back to show the taxi driver we were aware of time while Adam went to find the equator according to his phone. Which he did although we both agree their GPS might be a little more accurate!
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Back on the northern fringes of Quito we were quickly zooming along on a bus bound for Otavalo.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 16:12 Archived in Ecuador Tagged round_the_world

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