Walking the Line at the Edge of the World
So, how do you define an edge to a globe? In the case of Earth, maybe at the poles. But the equator latitude could be considered the edge as well, I guess. After all, that’s where you tip from moving “out” to going back “in” around this sphere we’re inhabiting. Kind of.
Anyway, it’s a border I’d been anticipating to cross for a while. So much so that I added it to my Bucket List. One foot in the southern hemisphere, and another in the northern. Only thing is – the equator is all an elaborate bluff!
Having been raised just a few kilometres south of the Arctic circle, I already knew what the bluff is all about: The Earth “wobbles”, so that the astronomical definition of the latitudes will shift ever so slowly. Over the course of a year, the latitudes actually shift as much as 9.0 metres (30 ft)..! This means that the elaborate marble line and tourist center that’s been built near my home town is just as fake as the equator monument I visited here. The actual equator is in fact kilometres away.
For the geeks and infomaniacs out there, you can read more about the astronomical phenomenon here.
In any case, I chose to ignore the fact that I was actually off by quite a bit, and enjoyed the feeling of balancing on the edge of the world as I straddled the touristy line, wrongfully meant to define the equator. Also cool to see the sun directly overhead at noon. The altitude in Quito made the days very bearable, though. As they say, they’re in a state of eternal spring. Pretty nice!
A funny, and somewhat frustrating, side note is that both here in Ecuador, and at other locations along the equator, people do good business showing the tourists how water doesn’t rotate when draining straight above the equator, and rotates respectively right and left to the north and south of the border. Pure bullfeces, of course, as the drawn line isn’t even astronomically accurate. And also, the real equator will not present such an effect. Highly illogical mumbo jumbo, but I met scores of ooh-ing and aah-ing people, and not just gullible old people and children, who enthusiatically bought it – hook, sinker and line. Sigh, the humanity.
Well – if you’re planning on going to Quito, make sure to drop by this memorial. It’s not a lot to be seen, and I heard that other museums and buildings nearby are more interesting, but it’s a thing to check off the to do-list for sure. I’ve flown across the equator a number of times, but this was my first touchdown there! More equator straddling to come on other continents, hopefully.