From the middle of the world.

In the last post I forgot to write about El mitad del mundo, which on reflection is a pretty big omission. As you can tell from the country’s name, the equator passes through Ecuador. The equatorial region is around 12 km wide, with the ‘actual’ equator being the midpoint of this, but there are two representative lines about an hour away from Quito and within a few hundred meters of each other. The first is a monument marked with the compass directions and surrounded by a museum and tourist-y shops, and apparently is the line calculated by European scientists. The second is the one known to Ecuadorians for hundreds of years, and the ‘real’ latitude 00° 00′ 00″ – the tour around it is obligatory, including an intriguing display of shrunken human and animal heads as well as a demonstration of the effects of the northern and southern hemispheres on water going down a drain. South goes clockwise, north goes anti clockwise. And I absolutely did not spend five minutes jumping over the line from north to south. It’s insane how the world’s middle, and a region so close to the Sun – in case you were wondering, the closest point is the volcano Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador – can be within miles of a glacier at Cotopaxi.

*   *   *

It’s getting close to moving-on time again, so I’m writing down a bucket list. Just reread that, and it sounds a little final – only moving on to Colombia, but it feels extreme right now. Very much silly, unfinished, and probably needs some revisions; but at least these are things I have genuine intentions of actually doing. Unlike the gazillion times I’ve agreed to go out drinking – sorry for that.

  • Stand underneath the Northern Lights. In Norway, or Greenland, or Alaska; or possibly Aurora Australis. The ultimate travel goal for someone who has apparently spent way too much time too close to the Equator.
  • Be in China for Chinese New Year!
  • Go hang-gliding; anywhere pretty. Or skydiving. Something involving fake wings and being strapped to a random person.
  • Scuba dive with sharks. Preferably hammerheads. I would totally be doing this next week in Colombia if I could work out how to for less than three grand.
  • Take the bullet train.
  • Bungee-jump from some bridge.
  • Find out what makes us Human.
  • Watch the sunrise in every continent. I guess that means picking the right time of year to go to Antarctica?
  • Learn how to shoot. Not to kill animals or anything, just because it looks really cool. And everyone wants to be part of Charlie’s Angels, fact.
  • Cycle across a continent. Pick a continent; any continent. Then bike it!
  • Write something pretentious in a coffee shop in Paris.
  • Read Paradise Lost, and Dante’s The Divine Comedy.
  • Be fluent in another language. Maybe Spanish, but not at this rate …
  • Run a half-marathon. Then a full one.
  • Go to a church service in a Catholic country. How have I been in Central/South America so long and not done this yet?
  • Hike Kilimanjaro, or an equivalently epic mountain.
  • See a penguin in the wild. 
  • Sell a sketch.
  • Understand Consciousness.
  • Cycle Death Road in Bolivia. Hopefully really soon! 
  • Take a crazy perspective photo on the salt flats. Again, Bolivia; also really soon.
  • Meditate for reals.
  • Write a letter to Philip Pullman.
  • See Wicked, or The Lion King, or Beauty and the Beast on the West End or Broadway.
  • Finally get the flower tattoo. Seriously, it’s been years.
  • See cherry trees in Japan or China.
  • Work for a really big company. Maybe.
  • Write a serious poem. No rhyming couplets, or jokes. No funny stuff.
  • Catch trains from Eastern Europe to London. And see people again! It’s been too long already.
  • Learn to make sushi. Bonus points for spicy tuna.
  • Give a presentation in front of more than four people and be a professional about it.
  • Visit the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the Planetarium, Madam Tussauds.

See, don’t some of those sound more fun than getting wasted at the bar? – except for the bungee-jumping thing, which would probably be better a little drunk.

*   *   *

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh.

“Narnia! It’s all in the wardrobe just like I told you!” – C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.




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