I’ve already admitted that I’m a complete dweeb when it comes to borders between states and countries. I love ’em. Mostly because I’ve never tried smuggling anything illegal across one, and so happily, my interaction with them is limited to handing over my passport, arranging my face into the unfortunate frown I sport in my photo and being stamped right on in. Which is certainly preferable to spending the night in a cell resting my tush after receiving an intrusive gloved examination.
Yep, love borders. Love heading over into new territory.
So imagine my glee when I was allowed to walk freely over the equator, in and out and in and out and in and out and in and out and in and out and in and out and in and out of the northern and southern hemispheres as much as I damn well pleased.
It was a good day.
While in Quito many people told me that, hilariously, there’s a lot of disagreement as to where the equator actually is – even over there in Pueblo Mitad del Mundo (the “Middle of the Earth Village”), the Ecuadorian town lying closest to this elusive line. This means that quite literally, no single monument truly claims to be on the equator itself, and as such, a couple of options are available for those who want to visit it.
Different options exist
We went to the Inti-Ñan (Ruta del Sol) museum, a privately run location which claims to have indicated the equator’s location by means of military grade compasses. Around the corner is the government-owned monument, which is not actually on the equator either.
(You wouldn’t have thought this “Where’s the equator?” thing would be so difficult, but there you go.)
Inti Ñan is an interactive museum aiming to show punters the wacky effects the equator has on the earth, as well as share some of the history of Ecuador’s Indigenous people. And yes indeed, some pretty cool sciencey stuff certainly happens there at the middle of the earth. You get to see and learn about shrunken heads, creepy crawlies and how the Indigenous tribes in the Ecuadorian jungle lived. Ohhh, I learned so very much – and greatly pleased my 10-year-old-inner-science-geek-child in the process. Now, back home and from the safety of the southern hemisphere once again, I am happy to report that there on this groovy invisible line, I discovered the following:
1) Bart Simpson was right
Remember the episode of The Simpsons when the family goes to Australia to be disciplined by a boot? After Bart communs greatly with his toilet bowl and racks up a stack of international calls trying to find out if water flushes in different directions around the world? Does anyone else admit to going straight to their own toilet to check which way the water went? No? Only me? Well, Bart was right to be flabbergasted – which the lovely staff at Inti-Ñan prove by means of an attractive portable golden sink which they roll in and out of the hemispheres.
And – in contrast to my disappointed childhood self who couldn’t quite make out what the hell the toilet water was doing – I was able to exclaim excitedly. “It works! It’s a miracle!”
(“Erin. It was science.” I can almost hear all my sciency friends sighing into their petri dishes from across the seas).
2) You can mess up someone much stronger than you
The second miracle was rendering useless the strength of all muscle-boofs at the museum that day. Something happens, ya see, some sort of upward/downward pressure-cancelling-out-phenomenon which means that you can exert more strength over someone than usual.
We were instructed to hold our hands together over our heads and resist while a friend tried to pull them down. The friends won. Even the piddly friends.
(A note for all for if you’re ever fighting a Stallone type, or your little brother, or whoever of the two is truly stonger: the closer one goes to the equator, the less strength your oppressor will have. All fights to the equator then..umm, just as long as you’re fighting in this peculiar hands-over-head fashion.)
3) Balancing is dead difficult
Turns out that if you ever find yourself needing to walk in a straight line along the equator with your eyes closed and your arms stretched out sideways, you won’t be able to with anything resembling grace.
I don’t know how much of our failure was hearing first that this would be very difficult…but still many people stayed for a good while trying. And ultimately failing.
4) Eggs and nails can perform amazing feats
Well, to refrase, I couldn’t. But I saw it proven time and time again – egg, nail, a little moment of concentration and bam! An oddity which would usually never end in anything except smooshed egg.
- The Inti Ñan museum is located on Autopista Manuel Cordova Galarza, 200 metres from the roundabout sporting the government-run “Mitad del Mundo” monument to the Centre of the World.
- Admission costs $4 for adults and $2 for children, including a guide.
- Bring your passport if you’d like it stamped – and pick up your certificate (awww cute!) if you successfully manage the egg-balance.