Quito – The center of the world, stoplight street artists, and the poor man’s tax in South America

Quito, Ecuador is the second hilliest capital city I’ve visited in the world, a close runner up to La Paz, Bolivia.

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Ecuador is a poorer country than Colombia and besides Panama, the only country in South America that uses the U.S. dollar.  The dollar can take you a long way in Ecuador.  This feast I got in a local market cost about $3.

Fried fish, vegetable rice, potatoes, spicy soup and dipping sauce.  Surprisingly, the popcorn with peanuts made a great topping for the rice and fish.  With a little spicy soup drizzled over the whole shebang, it was the best meal I had in Ecuador.

Fried fish, vegetable rice, potatoes, spicy soup and dipping sauce. Surprisingly, the popcorn with peanuts made a great topping for the rice and fish. With a little spicy soup drizzled over the whole shebang, it was the tastiest meal I had in Ecuador, though probably the least healthy.

Ironically my first day in Quito I left the city and headed 30 km outside of town for … THE CENTER OF THE WORLD!

El mitad del Mundo!!!!

El mitad del Mundo!!!!

Its not as exciting as it sounds but it is a gimmicky thing you can do, if only to say that you did it.

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The obelisque representing El mitad del Mundo, or “the center of the world” is actually a bit misleading because technically the actual center is some 200 meters away from the obelisque – at the time it was built the research was a bit off.  But the obelisque was cooler than some arbitrary spot so I didn’t bother to go hunting for the true “center”.

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Instead I just enjoyed my visit around the obelisque, a visit which would not be considered complete without a shot of walking on the equator.

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There are a lot of other exhibit-filled buildings within the Mitad del Mundo complex, ranging from an insectorium with lots of specimens local to Ecuador…

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..to a building detailing how French scientists came to Ecuador to take measurements from various mountain peaks in order to determine the official “equator”, which later was an inspiration for the country’s name “Ecuador”.

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