Visiting family in Quito, Ecuador (9350 feet above sea level) I was introduced to numerous sights and experiences during that 1950s time. This video reveals how much the city has developed, expanded into the countryside in the past almost seven decades since I was there. I do recall never having seen as much gold in one location as I did in a church we visited, contrasted with the surrounding poverty outside.
In one interesting experience we drove a narrow two-lane dirt road out of the nation's capitol, Quito, occasionally passing cottage-like houses at the side of the road. I noticed large carcasses of fly-covered butchered meat hanging under the roof covering front porch-like areas at some of those small houses. Obviously, power for a refrigerator or freezer, electric lights and other features taken for granted in most U.S. homes was not present.
Our travel led us to a large cleared rough dirt area with the Ecuadorean nation's small plain marker in the center around which we could drive, also with ample room to park which we did. There were no other structures or people visible, a very isolated nondescript site actually. Stepping to designated areas I was able to stand spreading my feet simultaneously with each foot on purported opposite sides of the equator.
Suddenly, a small wizened-looking woman with classic witch-like appearance including long hair flying about her head appeared, apparently from the natural unkempt surrounding brush. Startling us, she cloyingly but demandingly solicited a hand-out to which being mesmerized we did not immediately respond, still adjusting to her unexpected presence. Her manner and facial features abruptly became very contorted into a wicked grimace with glaring eyes when we did not respond as promptly as she expected.
This truly witch-like-looking little woman waved around her arms and pointing long nailed fingers at us, shaking her hand menacingly, uttering Spanish-sounding curse words as she began casting a damning spell on all of us. Such an intended fear inducing outburst in that brief period of time served to dampen any inclination we felt toward acquiescing to her demands leading us to not linger there longer. I don't think we even had bothered to take any photographs at that point and never did.
Recently, I searched for an Internet photo of the small plaque/monument I recalled seeing to share here. What has been revealed to me is the subsequent evolution of Ecuador's "Middle of the World" equator concept the nation has developed for their unique recognition in the decades since my visit.
The site we visited in the mid-1950s appears to have acquired a surrounding small town marking the area, but in Jim Ferri's NeverStop Traveling fun-reading short article is designated as "Ecuador's Fake Equator". Wha-a-a-t ! ..... FAKE equator?
Jim wrote: "...the screw-up was caused by a French expedition in 1736 that marked the wrong spot. And get this, the mistake wasn't realized until just a few years ago when the Global Positioning System (GPS) was invented."
But never fear you can go to the close nearby real equator at "the Inti Nan museum, which is about five minutes away" though "tourist trap" has been applied by some to that site. "...you can stand on the line painted on the "real equator," plus do other interesting equator activities.
Wait a minute! "...others say that neither spot marks the real equator and that the correct location is even further away." Incidentally, Jim notes there are some GPS issues with the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, too, lest we become too concerned.
Quitsato Project describes "there is the possibility that the Quitu-Caaranqui indigenous people, Before the conquest of the Incas, they were able to reach the exact positioning of the equator in the archaeological site of Catequilla (see 27 sec. aero vdeo), which was possibly used as an astronomical observatory ... located exactly on the Equinoctial line, easily verifiable with satellite technology, GPS or Google Earth".
Hugh Morris of Great Britain's "Telegraph" describes the situation well, along with short paragraphs on numerous other sites around the world where designations of the center has become questionable. In addition to London, other centres in Europe, there are complications with Alaska and Hawaii causing the centre of America to be in South Dakota, then there are 3 centres declared in Scotland. Seems there can be some confusion.
Many of the links above feature some colorful photos accompanying mostly short articles. The Quito countryside is surrounded by spectacular mountains with one inactive dormant volcano, Mount Chimborazo peak soaring to over 20,564 feet above sea level -- the highest peak on earth when measured from the center of the earth rather than sea level.
A brief recap before moving on to a different topic is what I expected to describe when I started writing this post. This would be a simple account of my standing with each of my feet simultaneously on opposite sides of the equator. Clearly, the matter has taken on unexpected complicating proportions.
Without the Internet most of us lay people would likely never have known about all these matters others now disagree about. Ignorance can sometimes be bliss as the saying goes, simplifying life, not knowing what we don't know. This applies to other topics, too. Would you agree or whadda you think?