Posted by: Googie | May 20, 2010

El Panecillo & Mitad del Mundo

El Panecillo is a small bread-shaped hill on which stands the gigantic statue of The Virgin Mary overlooking Quito, and supposedly protecting it from the volcanoes. Besides being an enormous structure, it is probably the only place where the Madonna is depicted in a dancing pose, and where she has wings.

I wanted to get there from the very first time I saw it, but I heard that walking up there was very dangerous even in daylight. Having been pick-pocketed just a few hours earlier, I decided not to tempt fate again, and opted for a taxi to take me up there and back to the hostel. At the statue, one can climb up to the balcony from where one can get great views of the expansive city of Quito.

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Posing with the Madonna

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A view of one part of Quito

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Under construction

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Interesting snap clicked purely by accident

This photo might help to appreciate the size of the statue.

Once back at the hostel, I checked out, picked up all my belongings and set off for the Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world). As the name suggests, it is a monument depicting Latitude 0 0’ 0” – the Equator. Although the monument is about 200 m off the exact equatorial line, it is still quite impressive.

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Flat-bottomed ice-cream cones

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The Mitad del Mundo monument

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The glamorous-but-fake equator

After the monument, I headed over to the Museo Inti-Ñan, the site of the real equator. A visit to this museum is highly recommended as one can observe some pretty cool “equatorial” experiments.

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The humble-yet-real equator

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Our guide explaining the observations and experiments

(The following is a video I found on Youtube which shows one of the experiments that were performed. Although this video was taken by some unknown person at some unknown time, the same experiment was performed in front of me also. This is a rather controversial experiment and many believe that its just a scam for tourists. But it sure did not seem like a scam to me. In fact, I was amazed that moving the trough of water just about a metre to the north or south of the equator had such a clearly noticeable effect on how the water drained out!!)

My initial plan had been to carry on to Otavalo from the Mitad del Mundo, but I found out the hard way that there are no direct buses. I would have to go back to Quito, and then get a bus to Otavalo. Since it was getting late, and since Quito is notorious for its after-dusk crimes, I went straight back to my previous hostel, where the staff were surprised to see me back so soon. My bed was still unoccupied, so I took it once again.

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