Ecuador: Live, from the Earth’s Waistline

I left you with a cliffhanger on Wednesday. The Directrice and The Photographer touch the equator!

As you see below.

The Equator does seem central to Ecuadorean identity.  I read an essay by a travel blogger who noted this point of pride; she suggested that even though the Equator passes through thirteen countries, if passion were enough to establish possession, Ecuador would own the equator.

The Photographer, as a man of Science and Astronomy (I know astronomy is a science) was particularly keen to mark our passage over the Equator with a special stop.+

Technically, in this photograph, only The Photographer is touching the Equator

Proof of Latitude

We took photos to establish proof of latitude.

Note: The Photographer stopped shaving a few days before we left D.C. and has not shaven (yet) on this trip. He offered two sketchy rationales — more protection from the Equatorial sun? less time potentially ingesting water in the shower? — but since the stubble phase passed, I keep catching him petting his beard affectionately. I tell him, “Don’t get too attached.”

We stopped on the Equator at a beautiful visitor’s center called Quitsato. If we hadn’t gotten a late start at the hotel in Quito, we would have been on this plaza at high noon and our shadows would have vanished completely.

At roughly 12:30 local time, here are our tiny shadows, which seem unusually small to me.

Further proof of our latitude: dwarf shadows?

The core of the Quitsato visitor complex is a giant sundial made of cobblestones.  The red tower shown above is at the center of the sundial.  In addition to the sundial, there are several low-slung buildings that blend beautifully into the landscape. These contain exhibits providing background on the Equator: the 18th century measuring of it (accurate), its significance in shipping and commerce (great), and its relationship with the sun and stars (positive).

The most interesting exhibit offered a different perspective on the globe, with a giant map on the floor of one gallery. The map was oriented with the Equator as a central vertical line or, put another way, a world map rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise.  It was a little hard to get one’s mind around, but that’s the point. The docent challenged us to think about a world in which there were no hemispheres, but rather all continents and countries taking turns “on top” as the word turns.

A revolt against Northern Hemisphere chauvinism!

In addition to challenging the politics of map-making, Quitsato supports archeological heritage and cultural preservation projects. These include a beautiful agave garden.

The Directrice does love a succulent and these were extraordinary. This particular one made me think of The Little Shop of Horrors.


Shortly after leaving the Quitsato site, we stopped for lunch and a tour of a rose farm. Sounds idyllic, right?

Subtracted from the long list of things I do not know — because now I know — is this fact: Ecuador is a leading grower and exporter of roses.  According to a random website that popped up in a Google search, Ecuador is the third largest exporter of cut flowers globally.

Here I am in the rose showroom, delighted (and slightly overwhelmed) amid more beautiful roses than I’ve ever seen in once place before

Roses thrive in certain parts of Ecuador because of the moderate temperature (we are still at elevation — maybe 5,500-6,000 ft.). The cut flower industry thrives in Ecuador because farmers are able to grow roses year-round (not just in one or two seasons) and — brace yourself, because this fact is a mind-blower — the roses grow on long, straight stems because of Ecuador’s position vis-a-vis THE SUN.

Not a particularly flattering photo of Martin or me, but I wanted you to see one of the greenhouses

We were escorted on our tour of the farm by Martin (pronounced Martine), who was quick to tell us that the property came from his wife’s family and later mentioned that he pays his male and female workers equal wages.

He was one of the most suave men I’ve ever met.++

The greenhouses are not glass houses. They are massive tents.  The covering helps to keep the temperature stable 24 hours/day.

This farm grew more than 30 varieties of roses — various shapes (number/placement of petals and petal edges) and colors. The color preferences can change with fashion — both interior design and clothing. The Chinese, it seems, like roses dyed colors that do not occur in nature (like blue), multi-colored dyed roses (achieved by splitting the bottom of the stems and inserting the sections in different colors of dyed water), and glitter roses (I . . . can’t).

The roses are harvested at different degrees of maturation — rated 1 to 4 — from buds just starting to open to full open flowers. In one day, a rose is cut, packed, trucked to an airport, and flown to its overseas destination.

Different countries and regions have different preferences for stem length, too. Canada and the United States like stems of roughly 14-16″, Europeans like something closer to 20-24″ for taller arrangements, and Russians like 30″-36″ inch stems for creating arrangements that look like rose bushes.

Sorting by color and length; the numbers on the rack do not relate to length


I hope I am conveying at least one-tenth of my enjoyment. It was so interesting to see how the flowers go from a field in Ecuador to a table-top in my apartment.

Can you tell that I want to fondle all the flowers and then scoop them up and run away with them? I’m really keeping it together!

No travel photo album would be complete without a few photos of me petting local animals. This chubby, dusty fellow lives at the rose farm.

Rose farm dog

The delight has amplified into laughter
A final word on travel clothes. The Prana pants that I started wearing during the pandemic and then started wearing to work for real in 2022? They are totally appropriate for a hiking vacation in Ecuador. I bought two long-sleeved cropped tops from Vuori for layering and shoulder/arm coverage. They’re really cute and the perfect weight for this weather.

If you’ve missed my earlier posts from Ecuador, they are here and here.

+ That’s not a euphemism or entendre.  I really do mean he wanted to stop and take it in.

++ Did you see Inside Out?  Do you remember the question (and memory) inside female characters’ heads — “For this, I gave up the Brazilian helicopter pilot?” and then an image of a suave man saying, “Come. Fly away with me, gatinha.” Martin  made me think of that.

7 thoughts on “Ecuador: Live, from the Earth’s Waistline”

  1. In the first photo, I am in the Southern Hemisphere, Tory is in the Northern Hemisphere! Though my foot is just a tiny bit over the line, intruding into Tory’s hemisphere. Tory often accuses me of similarly straying over the (imaginary) line bisecting our bed. Apparently it is in my nature to challenge boundaries wherever I find them.

  2. I love this post soooo much! The roses and their stems! The map and the docent’s challenge! The Directrice smiling with delight! The dog! Now I want to go to Ecuador, and I’ve never before wanted to.

    I have a question: I want to like Prana pants. I want to WEAR Prana pants. But. . .but. . .the low waistline? Even their “midrise” pants seem so low to me. How do you cope with that? (Or maybe it’s just that my body and Prana pants just don’t get along.)

    • I hear you, Tamara! Fit is hard to gauge. The Halle II has a higher rise than the original Halle I bought in 2018. Not sure if you tried the original or the II. I prefer the II. I also like pants to sit a little below my waistline (not low-rise though), and I think I have a fairly short rise, so these work for me. You could try one size up and see whether that makes a difference. The pants have an internal drawstring at the waist, so you could cinch them.

  3. I appreciate the education – and like Tamara, Ecuador has never been on the bucket list. You’re changing my mind!

    Also, I was never a fan of beards, however during COVID my husband started to sport one. He says it makes him feel artistic and dapper! It IS an acquired taste. And it makes me look younger than him… so there is that… lol

  4. There was a lovely yellow rose down by the fence in our back yard and as soon as you were able you went to investigate it. You have come a long way for the roses. They are beautiful and so are you.


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