Ecuador – Day Two: Hacienda La Herlinda and the Middle of the World

This morning’s breakfast at Hostel 593 significantly topped yesterday’s with these beautiful pancakes. And the strong black coffee is growing on me as I found myself looking forward to it as I made my way down to breakfast.

We arrived at the Rescue Center this morning for round two of manual labor with good intentions. Our mission was to reinstall the playground equipment we removed yesterday in a new location and finish painting an outdoor wall and some bathrooms. The progress we made with relocating the monkey bars was rapidly impressive, giving us a false sense of accomplishment. Wouldn’t you know it…within about ten minutes of finishing the job (the time it would take to widen a hole just a hare, move the cement blocks into the holes, and fill in the dirt), we hit a damn water line! With a plumber on the way and no ETA, we had to leave for our next destination, leaving the Rescue Center with a bigger problem than before we arrived the day before. This didn’t feel good; leaving a job unfinished never does.

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Once we said our goodbyes to the children, we made our way south to Hacienda La Herlinda where we enjoyed a deliciously homemade lunch in a beautifully furnished home which belonged to a friend of our tour guide, Effe. Every course was garnished with organic, edible fresh flowers and the scenery that provided the backdrop to our meal was stunning. The hospitality was so kind and generous, making this the highlight of my day.

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On our way to the Middle of the World, we made a couple of important stops. First, Pululahua Volcano, one of three inhabited volcano craters in the world. The view at the top of the crater was breathtaking as the clouds rolled in over the edge.

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To the southwest of Pululahua Volcano sits a quiet, rural town called Calacali. It was quite a nice shift from the noise of Quito. The equator crosses through the center of the Calacali plaza in the middle of town and gave us our first experience of stepping one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and one foot in the Southern Hemisphere. The students had fun with this.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Intiñan Solar Museum where we learned a brief history of Ecuador, a bit about the indigenous cultures, how cacao tastes in its various forms, and all the weird experiments you can do at the equator, like balance an egg on a the head of a nail.

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By the time we made it back to the hotel, we were hungry again and craving another shower to remove the dirt from our morning’s work. We ended our evening at one of Quito’s malls for dinner at The Big Pig BBQ where my Tomahawk steak did NOT look like the photo on their Facebook page, but the french fries were good. I’ll leave it at that.

Tomorrow, it’s off to Otavalo…

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