La Mitad del Mundo

San Antonio, Sierra Highlands, Ecuador
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La Mitad del Mundo in Ecuador features a curious attraction – it lies smack in the middle of the world, which is exactly what La Mitad del Mundo means. La Mitad is to be found beyond the Pomasqui village, near the village of San Antonio del Pichincha. There is a long avenue there that features a monument that they say lies on the equator, or near it. This is where you go if you want to see the earth's waistline. Now, this is your chance to be in two places at the same time – to straddle to hemispheres. This is something you cannot do any place else.

The monument marking the equator features a bright red line and a huge globe mounted on a square pedestal. This monument is made of concrete and iron, with andesite stones as covering. The globe weighs five tons and has a diameter of 4.5 meters. There is a sign that proudly announces "Latitude Oo. You can ride the elevator to the top of the 30-meter tall monument for an entrancing view of the surrounding hills.

This monument was built to mark where the equator was believed to pass Ecuador. However, there are other nearby establishments that also claim this distinction. There were actually several attempts to determine the equator's exact location, but it is only now, with the advent of GPS, that they can accurately pinpoint the place.

There is a museum that features Ecuador's indigenous cultures – their activities, clothing and other aspects of their daily life. Close by is a tourist village that provides you with all the souvenirs you can get. The village (dubbed "Ciudad Mitad del Mundo") also contains a bullring, some shops and restaurants, and strangely, a scale. The scale is for you to see if you weigh less now that you are in the middle of the earth. They say that since La Mitad is at the earth's middle, the bulge helps make you weigh less. See for yourself if it is true or just wishful thinking.

Along the avenue, you can also find a planetarium and statues of those who were part of La Condamine's Expedition. There is also a model of Quito (the capital of Ecuador is just an hour away from La Mitad) to be found at the Fundación Quito Colonial. The model is cool in that in comes with sound effects and lighting – so that you get to see how it looks like at sunrise and sunset. There are also models of some ships, as well as of Guayaquil and Cuenca. Near the entrance, you can find the monument dedicated to the Heroes of Cenepa – soldiers who defended the border against Peru. The story of this brave feat is featured in the French Museum nearby.

Also, do drop by the Museum of the Path of the Sun (or, in Quechua, "Museum of the Path of the Sun"). This provides you with an excellent insight to the indigenous cultures plus displays of local flora. It also houses the exact location of the equator, according to GPS technology.

When you happen to visit La Mitad during the weekends, you will also be treated to various cultural and musical presentations.
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