By Marco Rodriguez
Standing tall in the Andes Mountain Range lays the city of Quito, Ecuador. Quito, which is home to about 2.2 million residents, is the capital city of Ecuador and has an elevation of about 9,350 feet (1.7 Miles) above sea level.
This last fact I would come to experience first hand as I walked off the plane that Tuesday night at the eleven o’clock hour. With some tightness in my chest, I stepped off the airplane and met my host family.
The purpose of my trip to Ecuador was to visit a congregation that my church has a relationship with in the city of Ambato. We took off for the city of Ambato in the middle of the night as we made our way through mountains and valleys to finally arrive at the family’s home.
Nevertheless, in the two hours it took to get to Ambato, I was reassured that we would be going back to Quito in the following days to visit one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
The Middle of the World National Park, located in the northern Quito, is home to the historically accepted location where the Equator splits the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. A four-floor monument is located at the center of the park and is perhaps one of the most photographed structures in the area.
The monument, which houses a museum and has the supposed line of the Equator running through its base, is what catches the eyes of tourists as soon as they enter the park’s vicinity.
As I entered the park, I immediately noticed the tremendous work that the Ecuadorian government has put, and continues to put, into making sure that tourists and business people continue visiting.
The park was very clean and businesses such as banks, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops are all located inside the park, as well as in the strip mall directly in front of the park.
Additionally, a headquarters building for the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) is under construction and will be completed by the end of the year.
One of the great benefits of visiting Ecuador is that as of the year 2000, the American Dollar is the official currency in Ecuador, which made everything much easier for me as I made my way around the country.
After paying the $3 fee to enter the park, I made my way down to the park’s main monument. Along the way I saw statues, museums, restaurants, and shops all promoting Ecuador’s rich history and culture.
After a short walk we finally reached the famous yellow line. The line, which symbolizes the line of the Equator, has an “N” and an “S” marked on either side of it, representing the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It amazed me how a popular tourist attraction like The Middle of the World National Park, could be so inundated with people, but at the same time be so peaceful and relaxing.
The views from the top of the monument were amazing as you looked out over Quito and enjoyed the cool day’s breeze.
I took the stairs down the monument and enjoyed the museum inside. Every floor was filled with pictures, videos, and artifacts of the country’s different regions and indigenous people.
I purchased a Mora (Blackberry) ice cream at one of the park’s small shops and made my way to the shopping areas. The park features a giant plaza where musicians and artists regularly perform, three cultural pavilions, and even a chapel for tourists to attend.
Past all of that, the shopping area is revealed. The shops were in the form of houses and they each sold park souvenirs, as well as souvenirs of Ecuador at large.
The time passed and it was time for me to make my way to Quito’s airport for the flight home. Before we left the park I took another look at the star of the show, the line. While the monuments, shops, and restaurants all add value to the park, the primary reason for all to come is to admire the line. Children and adults, as well as college students, domestic and foreign, took their turn to appreciate what the yellow line represented. They were at the middle of the world and it was only right to celebrate it.
There is no big national park with businesses and profits to be made, if there is no line. Without that yellow line, we don’t have a reason to come together and celebrate the location. At the end of it all, it’s the simple things that matter in life and make all the difference.