What Happened When I Visited the Middle of the Earth
By Rachel McLeod
One of the many amazing things about Ecuador is that the equator runs through it.
Found in the province of Pichincha, there are actually not one, but two tourist areas for the middle of the earth.
Mitad del Mundo was the first one made, but it is not the real middle of the world, as the name would suggest. The real equator is almost 250m away, yet this fake equator is what attracts most tourists. The buses that come to this area drop people off at this site, and tour companies from Quito also bring their customers to this place.
It is an extremely common mistake to come here thinking it's the real thing, because unless you know otherwise, it is very unlikely that somebody is going to tell you the truth. But, at the very least, you can get some really nice pictures here.
The second tourist area was made after the mistake was realized. Built on the real equator is the Intiñan Solar Museum.
Unfortunately, this gem is not commonly known. Located down a random dirt road, down the street from the big Mitad del Mundo, with only one sign, it's not too hard to realize why.
Yet, this place is absolutely fascinating. Being on the equator changes many things about your body that can't physically happen anywhere else.
First of all, if you stand right on the equator line, you lose muscle strength. For example, when I stood on the line and put my fists out my friend pushed my arms down with unbelievable ease; I had no strength to fight it. I could even feel the muscles in my arms trying, but nothing happened.
Another phenomenon is balancing the eggs on a nail, right on the equator line. Not everyone can do it; you need just the right technique and patience. But if you are talented enough (as I was) then you get a certificate naming you an egg master!
The other mystery of the equator is that walking a straight line is almost impossible. An inch to the right or left is normal. But, directly on the equator line and you no longer have any balance.
It's absolutely amazing and something that you truly need to experience in order to fully understand, because it is so strange and nonsensical that everything you are able to do suddenly changes when you stand on this specific line.
While Mitad del Mundo is a huge tourist attraction, it is just not worth the money. It costs more than the real equator and there is not as much to do. The Intiñan Solar Museum should get more recognition and if you are going to be in Ecuador anytime soon I would highly recommend doing some research first to know where you're going because the real equator is a unique and fun experience that was beyond worth the long day of getting lost.
To keep up with Rachel’s journey, follow her on Instagram, @rachellmcleod.