When you visit Quito, there’s no way you’re going to miss hearing about the two equator museums about 20 miles outside of the city. We decided to hire our own private taxi driver for a day-tour. There are three main must-see tourist stops for all-things-on-the-equator. Luckily they are all near each other, so a ~$50 taxi-tour from Quito is easy.
The Museo D’Inti-Nan actually sits on the equator, as opposed to the other museum, which sits on what a team of 18th century French explorers thought was the equator, about 650 meters away.
This museum is a mish-mash of Ecuadorian history, flora, and exhibitions of equator-only experiments they lead tourists through to prove you’re actually standing on the “true” equator line. The guide made a point of saying that this museum is on the “modern equator” whereas the other museum down the road is on the “old equator”, so as not to offend anyone.
We learned about some of the native peoples of Ecuador, which included an allegedly real shrunken head (why, who knows?), a traditional hut, furnished as if the occupants had just left on a hunt or something. Along the way through the exhibits and experiments, we wandered through a garden of native plants and decorative tiki statues.
At one point, there was a reconstructed ancient burial site, complete with mummy, also fake, but the story of the burial rituals of various tribes was interesting.
We saw another hut with an enclosure full of Guinea Pigs, which in case you didn’t know are the main component of the national dish of Ecuador. They are called Cuy Cuy, because of the sounds they make. It was disgusting, because of the glee in which the guide told us how delicious they are and even though these poor fellas are probably never going to be someone’s dinner, they are consigned to live in a dark hut for the rest of their lives, just wandering around in circles and being blinded by flash photography.
We performed several experiments, like watching water alternately go straight down a drain, no rotation (on top of the equator), go clockwise and then counterclockwise, depending on whether the sink was moved to the north or south of the equator. We balanced raw eggs on the head of a nail, tried to walk a straight line with our eyes closed, tested the ability to resist force when on and off the equator.
It was a fun and surprising experience.