11/2. Thursday. Also when going north, Quito appears to be a big city with a lot of traffic. This time we went down and up through a large valley surrounded by deforestated mountains containing many quarries; along the road one cement factory after the other. After 1.5 h we reached a kind of tourist parc: "La Mitad del Mundo". There was the monument and the red line and also a table where you could try to balance an egg on the tip of a nail: it would stay in balance on the line and tumble on either side of it. On Youtube it can be seen how many educated tourists believe the trick. Our GPS gave as position: 0o 0' 9'' S; 78o 27.2' W and 2817 m hight. So, we were slightly below the equator?
Sebastián and Hilbert balancing on the equator.
12/2. Friday. This morning we prepared a box with stuff we didn't want to take down the Amazon (books) for the post to Holland. After also having bought batteries for GPS and camera, Sebastián took us to the airport. We had lunch and then said goodbye to our wonderful "anfitrión" (host), who had helped us with so many things in Quito, who had been correcting all the time our spanish gibberish and who had so many times suggested: "Why don't we go to eg. Otavalo, La Condamine was there...?"
Thank you Sebastián and goodbye Pichincha.....
Goodbye Pichincha! The tip of the Cotopaxi from our airplane.
The Chimborazo from the airplane; Ecuador highest mountain.
In the airplane a man sat next to me who helped me to take a picture of the Chimborazo vulcano through the window. It was a neurologist and we talked about brains and La Condamine. We landed in Cuenca on what seemed a road in between the houses. Once outside, the taxi driver had to ask many times his "companieros", sometimes stopping, sometimes while driving, for our hotel La Casona, according to him in the véry rich part of Cuenca. But also in the south of Cuenca, not far from the road to Tarqui, where La Condamine started his voyage.
13/3. Saturday. "Sounds from long ago"
It was still dark when I woke up with the sounds of the crowing of far-away cocks and of what must be an oriole. Sounds of rain, the song of a blackbird and crickets woke me up again and reminded me of Sutz...
Left: View from our room in hotel La Casona; in the morning it had been raining...
Right: View on old, colonial Cuenca and the Rio Tomebamba.
Walking to the big cathedral, La Imaculada, in the center of lovely, colonial Cuenca, we came to Parque Calderon. It is carnival and everywhere people become sprayed with water or other stuff; Hilbert became twice a victim.... In the parc a boy called us. Turning around we saw the person we met in the airplane yesterday: Dr. Galo Cuesta, with son and daughter. He could not stand up because his shoes were being polished. So, I set down and allowed my sandals to become shiny also, for 30 cents; the face of the small boy looked quite old and seemed not capable of producing a smile. Afterwards we drank a coffee and talked about brain trauma's in young children, football and many other things. When coming back to Quito I promised to contact him.
Left: Hilbert proudly (?) showing his carnival spray.....
Right: Galo Cuesta, whom we had met in the airplane,
with son and daughter; small children polishing our shoes....
In the evening Eduardo Tapia came with his wife Anna. He will be our guide to Sarameriza, past the Pongo de Manseriche. We had a nice "get-together" in the restaurant El Maiz. Tomorrow the real journey will start when we will be in Tarqui, from where La Condamine started his voyage: "Je partis de Tarqui, terme austyral de notre méridienne, a cinq lieues au sud de Cuenca, le 11 mai 1743."
First encounter with Eduardo Tapia, director of Tourism in Loja, and his wife.