After our first couple of nights in Quito we (The Adventure Knitting Gang of 16) left the city and travelled north by coach to visit the equator and go up to the Otavalo region. The drive was riveting, it was hard to knit even a few stitches, as the scenery, the people and particularly the glimpses of daily life were so fascinating.
At one of the several equator crossing points we visited a museum dedicated to displaying the lifestyles of the various different indigenous groups; they also displayed quite a number of simple science experiments relating to crossing the equator, the difference in the Coriolis effect in the northern and southern hemispheres and on the equator. We participated in these activities and were amazed and impressed at the differences between being a few feet north, actually on-the-line and and a few feet south.
Special note for Cat Bordhi! Yes, it’s true.
The old sink-water-rotation thing really is genuine! They proved this to my complete satisfaction by having a sink with a plug set up on table legs like a school desk. Firstly it was filled and then emptied directly over the equator. The water dropped straight out of the plug hole. This in itself was odd to watch. They then moved the sink perhaps four feet north and the water whirled one way (leaves were floated on the water surface for added clarity) and then then again four feet south of the equator and the water spiraled the other way. I’m convinced. (I do remember trying to test this when I was at sea in the southern hemisphere, but could no longer remember which way the water went in the northern hemisphere. The results lacked impact.)
These experiments would certainly bring geography and science to life in schools and for enquiring minds there are just certain geographic challenges in providing this experience!
We stopped at a number of different villages on the way, many of which are noted for their particular specialties. Cayambe is famed for its biscuits (Bizcocho): rather like a rich, crisp, scone, and also for their cheese (rather like young mozzarella), apparently it is a popular ritual to visit here from Quito for hot chocolate, biscuits and cheese. Ugh!
San Antonio was noted for its woodworkers and their carvings: there any number of stores around the ubiquitous central plaza are crammed with carvings and locally made furniture (on a grand scale). No chipboard around here. I managed to resist the life-sized carved giant tortoises. (Having later seen the tortoises, these carvings were large but not even a significant fraction of the size of a real one!) Most of the shops in these small towns cluster around a central plaza filled with exotic foliage. We have seen quite a number of epiphytes hosted by larger trees.
Cotacachi (with a notable lime-green church, renowned for its leatherwork, revealed amazingly supple leather turned into a cornucopia of goods and clothing, including a rather bizarre water/something-stronger flask, made from a cow’s foot – quite resistable! It is hard to imagine such a range of beautifully cut, sewn and constructed items all being produced from a variety of hole-in-the wall workshops with hand, or more likely foot, powered sewing machines. I had witnessed welding, carving and any number of other crafts being conducted in these conditions, so I doubted that leather work would be any different. I rashly declared myself to be immune to the charms of leather, and thus Lindy made it her mission to find me something I could not resist. Hence the lime green, hot pink purple confection I staggered off the bus with later in the day. “The only thing I can’t resist is temptation.” A quote from my father!