Today we went to the Center of the World with some of the kiddies from the Hostel, Sean and Jeff, the New Zealanders and Seth and Becky from the UK. A 1.5 hour bus ride north of Quito, it was a fabulous tourist trap with all the makings to rip every last cent from your pocket. The center of the world was marked with a huge monument built with the help of the French about a hundred years ago.
The entrance fee to the monument and tourist area was $1 and then to go up into the monument was an additional $3. So we said the hell with that and walked around a bit more taking some typical tourist photos in front of the monument.
We wandered over to the planetarium which was adjoined by a few other buildings, each having a miniature construction of the country plastered on its outside—really random if you ask me—and we didnt go in any of them because each one cost $1.50 to enter! We did stumble across another building that housed some sort of research project so we went in to check it out cause it was the only one that was free.
There was a guy inside that wanted to give us a presentation on some recent discoveries his group had made. So half of our group stuck around for the presentation. It was actually fascinating. The guy told us that the monument was actually 300 meters off, and that only 6 years ago, using satelites and GPS they were able to find the real equator and where they found it, they also discovered a pre-Inca counstruction on top of a hill.
The guy told us how the people studied the movements of the sun and knew the exact tilt of the earth from studying the changes in angles during the summer and winter solstices and the equinoxes. Then he showed us the design that the path of the sun made and proceded to show us how this design played an important role in many old indigenous civilizations around the world.
I was really amazed at the things they had uncovered, and all without government funding. It also raised the point that maybe past cultures weren’t as primitive as everyone seems to believe. At the very least, they had the time to study the cosmos.