Latitude 0 – Longitude 0

Today was our tourist day where we visited two local churches for services and than moved on to Mitad Del Mundo (the center of the world). The two church services were a lot of fun and a blessing to be a part of. There was LOTS of singing and clapping and a little jumping around but was a neat experience. We also took communion at the second church we visited where I nearly choked on the “wine” or what represented the blood of Christ for those who don’t know. We’re still not sure what type of alcohol it was but some thought it was Sherry (spelling?).
After the church services, we had a 30 minute drive to the other side of Quito to Mitad Del Mundo. The traffic, the fumes, and the bus driver combined to make me ill so I was extremely relieved when we got off the bus. The first thing I noticed upon exit was the faces of other Caucasians. We actually ran into a family from Iowa while we were there. There seemed to be a lot of German tourists as well.
We ate a place called Yavati’s where we all were served a beef dish I don’t know the name of but it wasn’t tremendously appetizing when you already felt ill. It made me crave Quizno’s of all places and things, I have no idea why! 🙂 After we finished our meals, Paul brought us a traditional Ecuadorean dish called “Cuy”. For those of you who don’t know or own a pet hamster of some sort, Cuy is roast guinea pig. We all gave it a shot and although it was very stringy (and they didn’t remove the jaw or teeth) it wasn’t that bad. I can’t say it compares to any other meat I’ve had and I certainly wouldn’t eat it again, but it wasn’t horrible, as long as you didn’t look at it from the face on…or as long as you didn’t recall the two pet hamsters (Winston and JJ) that you had growing up!
We shopped for about an hour at all the little shops around the Equator monument. Most of the shops carried the same items but everything was CHEAP! I bought lots of things, more than I expected to get and spent less than $60. You are able to bargain for items but there is really no need when everything is less than $10. I bought a hammock and I don’t even have anything I can attach it to, it was handmade and $9!
The actual Equator monument is a huge obelisk type of granite structure with a large globe on the top and the Cardinal directions on each of its four sides. There is a sign (put there strictly for the tourists I’m sure) that is just in front of the East side of the monument that says “Equator – Latitude 0 Longitude 0”. There was also the North/South Hemisphere line that is drawn in red across the entire pavement of the monument. Lots of pictures in both those areas of course. What most people don’t know is that that red line and granite monument is geographically off by several hundred feet. The real Equator line is several hundred feet to the South but there is little fanfare surrounding that monument. It also costs an extra couple of bucks to see the “real” Equator monument.
An overall fun day, we returned to the dorm and had Domino’s pizza, attempted to re-pack to include our souvenirs and were de-briefed by Paul, Susan, and Mike from Extreme Response. Again, tears were shed as everyone shared the joys of the experience and what kind of work we saw God do here in Ecuador not only with the family we built the house for but with our team.
Now all we have left is to safely make it through customs in the Quito airport and hope they don’t find something they like in our carry-ons and remove them. I have packed all my souvenirs (but my hammock!) in my carry-on so as not to run the risk of something being broken. We have to make it through customs, security, and pay an exit fee to leave the country ($40.85) and we’re off to Miami.
Please expect a final blog when I get back into the office this week as well as photos fromt he trip.

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