|I had the worst sleep imaginable last night. My room, with a window overlooking one of the tables in the dining room, is 5 feet directly across from the lobby desk. The walls and doors are paper-thin, so I can hear EVERYTHING. To get in and out of the hostel you need to be buzzed in by the attendant in the lobby. All night I could hear people coming and going. Finally, it got quiet, but at 4:30 AM someone was checking-out. Even though the kitchen isn't open until 7:30 AM, he decided to make himself coffee, etc. Thankfully, I had been told when I checked-in that I would be moved today... now I understand why!
At 7 AM I made my way over to the Marriot to get picked-up for my tour. While waiting in the lobby, I met a businessman from Houston who gave me the unfortunate news that the Conservatives won. Well, thank god I'm not part of the Canadian military.... and at least George W. will be happy.
In the morning I toured the Old Town with Robin, the only other person with me on the tour, and our guide. This involved going through several Catholic churches. By my second church, I was `churched out'. Having never been baptized or attended church, I'm really not interested. I'd rather see a religious structure I'd otherwise would not have the opportunity to visit (e.g. mosque, temple, etc). I decided to go off on my own and met up with them later.
In the afternoon, just the guide and I went to the equator. First, we went to Museo de Sitio Intinan, which is the true location of the equator. I was shown several interesting proofs - like how EXACTLY on the equator, water drains straight down, and then how a few feet north of the equator the water drained clockwise, and a few feet south of the equator the water drained counterclockwise.
In case I ever needed to know, I was also shown the process of making shrunken heads, complete with science-fair like posters outlining the nine steps of the process (better be nice to me:)). I also went through an exhibit which showed the indigenous peoples' way of life. One thing that surprised me was that to this day, guinea pigs are considered a delicacy in Ecuador.
After seeing the real equator we went to Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world), a monument marking the "equator". This is actually built as an attraction, with restaurants and artisan shops where you can shop around for typical crafts and products from Ecuador. The location of the monument was inaccurately reported as the equator line by a group of international explorers in the 19th century - those days they didn't have GPS, and subsequently got it wrong by about 200 metres. What this all means is that there's a big complex that says it's at the middle of the Earth but in fact isn't - instead the real equator is a bit down the road.
I met up with Ian, Graham and Jim for our final dinner together. I really enjoyed spending time with the Thomas'.