ECUADOR - Sunday November 16, 2008

We met each other at breakfast. Mike, Eric, Chuck (who originated this trip), Daniel and me. After a breakfast of eggs, juice, little rolls, and cereal with yogurt, we met in the lobby with Pepe and Javier, two of the guides. The third, Sebastion, was doing some continuing education credit and would hook up with us later.

After our meeting, Pepe took us out on a road trip to the two equators. One was discovered by the French in the 1700's and is not accurate, since back in the day they thought the Earth was round. DOH! It's about 10,000' fatter in the middle. But sea level is still sea level and Quito is about 9300' above sea level. It rolls over the hills, so it varies some.

The second Equator was surveyed totally scientifically and because of the water-down-the-drain test, you know it's the real one. There was also a little gag test about walking down the equator with your eyes closed - most people can't do it. I did, but it was real tough and I blamed Tai Chi. The tour was great and I highly recommend it to anyone - there were recreations of tribal ruins and lifestyle and our guide was really fun.

After the "REAL" equator we went to the theme park area developed around the "OLD" equator and ate. I just had a chicken sandwich and fanta. We got to watch some dance exhibition and I got some cool pics.

Then we had to make a choice - walk downhill to a housing development in an "extinct" crater, or ride the tram. We voted to ride the tram. The top is around 13,000' and we walked up the trail about 1200' higher then returned and got back on the tram. On the tram Pepe asked if we wanted to climb a church. Well duh! So we went to an old church with a 300' bell tower you could go up (later I learned it is known as "The Basilica"). It was really cool and gothic and pretty scary in places going up a narrow spiral staircase then finally up rebar ladders slippery from the misty rain.

Finally we headed to Javier's office for his Ecuadorian guide service, which was on the floor above his apartment in a really nice gated community. He presented a slide show about our itinerary, then his wife brought in his two kids and three plates of Ecuadorian pizza. It was pretty good. His wife is Dutch, his kids have dual citizenship, and one is going to the American School and the other to the German School. Amazing world.

We headed back to the hotel and slept, another long day in Ecuador acclimatizing.