Monday, January 29, 2018

Intiñan Solar Museum: Explore the Equator and Ecuador Life

our tour guide standing next to a real anaconda
My anaconda don't want none unless you got buns, hun (yeah, I totally went there!)

Back in September, while on a mission trip, our group took a break from volunteer work and spent a couple of hours at the Intiñan Solar Museum in Quito, Ecuador.  I found it to be very interesting and educational.

Intiñan Solar Museum is an outdoors museum with guided tours.  The entire experience lasts just a little under two hours, and I walked away loaded with information and boggling tidbits.  Guided tours are available in English.  Our tour guide answered any questions we had and was very personable.  She also liked to say "penis fish"....a lot!

shrunken head of a sloth on the left
shrunken head of a 12 yoa boy that was in line to become a chief

Our group was led through several different themed exhibits.  The museum’s main attraction revolves around the museum’s zero-latitude magnetic equatorial line.  We also learned about ancient civilizations, Ecuadorian culture, and cocoa beans.

Our tour guide wouldn't give us ALL the gory details but did clue us in on the process of tzanza (shrinking heads).  This process still carries on today with the Jivaroan peoples, a tribe that's partly located in eastern Ecuador.  There are approximately 60,000 head shrinkers left in the world.  That's about 60,000 too many for me.

one of the few shops located at the museum
This particular one had handmade goods and decor created by one single family

We toured the Totemic Forest area and saw displays of intricately carved totem poles. They represent the beliefs of ancient cultures of the Americas, such as the Mapuche, Maorí and Rapa Nui people.  A model of the Galapagos Islands gave us insight of the archipelago’s main islands and wildlife. We learned of an ancient burial ritual where if a man died, he was buried in a large dirt opening with his possessions.  If he was married, his wife was also buried with him.  Didn't matter if she was alive or not, she was going in with him.  Glad that's been outdated!

We visited reconstructions of indigenous huts to glimpse into the rural life of Ecuador’s ancestral cultures. Corralled in one hut were a couple guinea pigs.  If you recall me stating in an earlier post, guinea pigs are considered a delicacy in Ecuador.  For approximately $35 you can get a dish of roasted guinea pig that arrives fully in tact (minus the fur), looking like a pissed off bat.  Jason actually ordered guinea pig at a restaurant, and we ate it.  #DontJudge

me and Jason kissing on opposite sides of the Equator
It's crazy how close we were, yet on different sides of the world.

Not far away from this museum is a "middle of the world" monument.  Tourists still flock there for pictures.  But, the actual location was determined by GPS several years later and visitors can be right smack dab in the middle of the world when they come to the Intiñan Solar Museum.  

There's not a big gap between one side of the world to the other but you can definitely notice a difference in things when you're standing right at the equator.  For one, we witnessed the Coriolis Effect by seeing water rotate clockwise and counter-clockwise depending on what side of the equator line it is on.  

The real deal...middle of the world

It's not particularly easy to balance an egg on a nail head, and even harder on the equator.  If you can accomplish that feat, you'll received a signed certificate of accomplishment.  Walking a straight line without losing your equilibrium is almost impossible.  No one would pass a DUI test, that's for sure.  

Jason's stronger than I am but I was able to loosen a tight grip from his fingers and easily knock his hands down while on the equator.  The force is not strong there.

coco fruit

At the Cocoa Hut exhibit we learned the process of turning coco fruit into chocolate.  We all got to taste a raw cocoa bean.  People, they're gross!  The beans are white in color and there's a slimy coating that you can taste when you pop one in your mouth.  I imagine it's like eating the entrails of a slug. (guinea pig - yes, slug - no). 

The experience was redeemed when we got to try samples of organic Ethiopian chocolate in different flavors.  I'm sure the Heavens parted!  The chocolate tasting was a straight-up foodgasm.  Some of the best I've ever consumed.  

Me and Jason with a masked dancer

We were in Ecuador during an equinox season, a reason to be celebrated.  A traditional dance was done in front of our group by a female wearing a mask.  She grabbed some people out of the crowd to dance with her and Jason was one of them.  The dance was amazing and mesmerizing in its own right.

Kenny, an employee of Pan de Vida
How he dealt with our crazy group for almost a week is beyond me!

I know that Ecuador isn't usually on the top of a person's vacation list but if you ever decide to visit I definitely recommend a tour at the Intiñan Solar Museum.

3 comments:

rblbsh28 said...

I wish I could share this. Some of our church went there last year. I know they would love to be able to read this. Our pastor's wife' sister and her husband are missionaries there. Their names are Ronda and Jim.

Theresa Mahoney said...

The museum looks interesting. I'd have to pass on the guinea pig though. You are one adventurous lady!

Jana Leah B said...

The museum sounds fun, but I'd have to skip the anaconda exhibit.