Trip Start Jun 14, 2005
Trip End May 12, 2006

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

After a short, but sweet flight I landed in the beautiful (and high) city, Quito. At 2835 meters (9300 ft) this is the second highest capital city (2nd only to La Paz, Bolivia) and let me tell you, it didnīt take long for me to find that out that the air is a bit thin up here. Fortunately, for the first time in this whole adventure my scheduled airport pick-up actually came through and I didnīt have to screw around trying to figure out where to go. The next week I spent studying Spanish at a wonderful little school (recommended by Lonely Planet) in the morning and touring around with one of the teachers during the afternoon. Although Quito is a beautiful city, complete with a Old Town that is a preserved World Heritage Site, and in a beautiful setting (in a valley surrounded by a bunch of volcanoes) the cityīs air (what little there is in the first place) is highly polluted by all the vehicles trying to burn low-quality fuel at a high altitude.

Some of the highlights of the week were the Governerīs Palace, which houses one of the most corrupt Presidents ever, a hair cut at at a Peluquria (barbershop) in the basement of the Presidentīs Palace and a visit to the Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World).

In the 1800s a French team of Explorers arrived in Ecuador and after a couple years of measuring distances they determined that the exact line inbetween the two poles ran right through Ecuador (then the Audencia de Quito) and thus named it the Equator and changed the countryīs name to what we now know it as. After visiting the touristy monument dedicated to the French at the spot they determined was the Equator (itīs actually 250 meters off) I headed over to the Inti-Nan museum next door and was quickly shown that indeed I was standing on the Equator. First they let a tub of water drain on the Equator line and it was awesome to see the was drain without a hint of a swirl. Then he repeated it again 2 feet to the North and the water drained in a counter-clockwise swirl. And then 2 feet to the South it drained in the opposite direction.

To finish a great weekend on my last night in Quito I coincidentally ran into another Adventist (I know, Iīm getting good at this) and he took me around and showed me the Adventist radio station there and invited me to spend a weekend in his house (look for me there next weekend). From here Iīm off to Otatvalo for the biggest, oldest and most important Saturday Market in South America. See you there...
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