Trip from the South to the North hemisphere: Mitad del Mundo
When we decided to go the Mitad del Mundo it was with a bit of apprehension because we knew that just the village itself (that isn’t really located on the equatorial line), would probably be disappointing. So we also aimed for the Pululahua volcano. And off we went!
When the bus drove into San Antonio de Pichincha, a lot of streets were blocked off and we had a hard time getting around. Why was that? Once again, we ended up in a place celebrating it’s annual party! As we jumped off the bus ignoring the village of Mitad del Mundo, we walked down the main street and discovered there was a parade. We found a place to have a fresh juice on a terrace and sat to watch. There were various floats with children disguised in traditional clothing, dancing… It was a really nice moment and we just enjoyed sitting there, watching them go by and listening to the music.
As we went for a stroll looking for a bus to take us to the Pululahua we stumbled upon a small market quite by accident. So we took a walk round (found a gorgeous pair of earrings!) and at the other end of it there was what looked like an abandoned funfair. It looked kind of creepy I must say.
We then jumped on a bus to the Pululahua volcano. The bus dropped us off on the side of the main road. From there there is a road on the right hand side, going up to the “Mirador”. As we walked up the road we saw a path on the left hand side with an old sign saying “Refugio”. An old man walked up it, so we caught him up to ask him where it was going. It turned out it was a short cut to the viewpoint of the Pululahua crater. So we followed him up as he told us about his career in mountain hiking. On the way up we met Ramiro and his horses. Ramiro offers horse rides down to the crater, of about 2 ½ hours, for $10 / hour with guide. We didn’t go for that option as we had decided to hike down and back up for a little exercise). We finally arrived to the entrance of the Pululahua Park. There, a man asked us to note down our names, ages and nationalities (I imagine for security reasons). We didn’t pay for entrance – as far as I understand there is another entrance on the western side of the park where you have to pay $3 for the entrance.
So we walked to the “Mirador” and stood there for a while admiring the view over the crater. It was not quite what I had imagined. They actually have a few farms down there and it has been turned into agricultural land. But even so, the view is marvelous. This “hole” is surrounded by mountains, and there is a calm and relaxing atmosphere from up here.
But looking at the steepness of the hike down got us thinking: do we really want to go down? –YES! As we walked down we were thinking about the fact that normally you hike up to see an amazing view, so it’s worth the effort. But walking down from the amazing view to just walk back up to it was weird. Anyway we enjoyed walking down and adventured ourselves down various shortcuts, crossing our fingers they’d lead us back to the original path. We met a local couple on the way down who told us that when you arrive at the bottom you can feel a special energy, coming from the volcano. As we got down we laid down in the grass for a bit, had a nibble and relaxed. As we looked back up to what we had just done, we had this satisfied feeling, but when we thought we had to climb back up this really steep mountain we didn’t feel quite so satisfied! J We thought we’d better make a plan to go back up. An old lady in the bus told us it would take about 2 hours (at least). So we planned on hiking 20 mins at a time (we are not that athletic you see!), and off we went. After 20 minutes we had a drink and thought to ourselves “Oh my god, five times this to go….we’ll die!”. It turned out that after another 20 minutes we were at the top. We did walk constantly, without stopping at all. I must say we felt quite proud and relieved at the same time!
We took another look at the stupendous view and decided it was time to go for a well-deserved lunch.
We walked back down to the bus that would drop us off in front of the village Mitad del Mundo. We decided we would go into the village to visit a little. We first went to the Quito museum. Well waouh! In the first room there is a model of Quito’s Old Town. The size of it is impressive and the details are amazing. There are some explanations about the town and then we see Quito at night. The sun goes down and the houses and monuments start lighting up. It was a very enjoyable experience. The second room exposes maps of Quito through time, Ecuadorian legends, etc… Well worth a visit!
After that we strolled up towards the monument of the “Mitad del Mundo”. It was fun crossing the equatorial line, but I must say that the monument isn’t that amazing. We walked around the village that was nicely built and decorated. There are many gift shops, places to eat… I was quite astonished because the town in which the village is located isn’t very nice (as in architecturally and decorations…), but a lot of thought was put into the village itself.
Before we left we wanted to go back to the little market we had discovered in the morning, to get those earrings and some fruit juice. We ended up buying fruits in a cup with some sort of sweet thick creamy thing over it (see pic). It was delicious although very very sweet so we couldn’t actually finish it all! We went through the market a second time and bought the earrings. As we arrived at the other end, there was a band playing and… the funfair was on! So it was not abandoned, it just looked a bit creepy when there was no activity. People and especially little kids were really enjoying being out and having fun together.
It was now time to go back to Quito. We dozed off during most of the journey back. As we arrived in Quito we had the most gorgeous views over the town and felt happy about the way our day went.