A Tale of Two Hemispheres: Straddling The Equator

Have you ever been where the sun rises at 6:30 a.m. and sets at 6:30 p.m. every single day? Where in July, it never leaves the low 80s?

My Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) summer trip to Ecuador included a tour of Quito, the largest capital in South America, and standing on the equator.

I loved getting my passport stamped at zero degrees latitude where I’m in the middle of the world. One foot into the Northern Hemisphere, the water in the sink runs counterclockwise, and one step into the Southern Hemisphere, it runs clockwise.

Days later we flew to Coca and took a three-hour motor canoe trip on the Napo River to our Yarna Lodge in the Amazon jungle. There, netting is not for mosquitoes – it’s for bats.

In the Amazon, a great integrated system of rivers and jungles, only about 10% of sunlight penetrates the jungle canopy and reaches the forest floor.

My favorite part: listening to the chirps and trills of animals and light rain on a thatched roof each night.

“I loved getting my passport stamped at zero degrees latitude where I’m in the middle of the world.”

We climbed a 243-foot observation tower to view birds and monkeys; visited Yusani National Park where natural erosion-caused formations attract parrots, parakeets, and macaws; and had lunch with a family living in the Amazon watershed.

We loved the fresh fish roasted in large leaves. Grub worms on skewers (Amazon bacon) proved crisp, a little salty, and delicious enough to have several. Popcorn went into our yummy soup (you always put popcorn in your soup in Ecuador).

Next came a trip to the Galapagos Islands, where we climbed aboard our boat with a crew of seven to spend a week exploring the archipelago. Our cruising itinerary, strictly enforced by the Galapagos National Park, minimized our impact to the ecosystems of the islands.

Visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station on Isla Santa Cruz and hiking the grounds to see the Galapagos tortoises was a treat.

Seeing Sally Lightfoot crab and watching huge iguanas sunning on the sands when the sea lions leave enough room is an adventure of Darwinian proportions. I’d heard about the blue-footed boobies but not the Nazca ones.

Frigate birds, pelican, doves, swallowtail and lava gulls, Darwin finches, herons – depending on the island visited – the list could go on and on.

I was glad I was wearing not only my patch for seasickness but also bracelets on both arms because in July the Humboldt Current delivers choppy water around the islands. Some days were dry landings and the others wet, but having crew helping load and unload and the dinghy having steps with railing on the bow made it possible for me.

I was impressed with the white sand beaches – the sparking clear aquamarine water and black and red volcanic rock landscapes. With sunsets at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m., we could view constellations in both the Northern AND Southern Hemispheres and be in bed early enough to experience another adventure in the morning.

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