Pichincha / Imbabura  
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Dispatch 3 - Cayambe
Cotopaxi from near El Quinche

Pan-American highway

Left: After a final photo of Cotopaxi we join the Pan-American highway on part of its journey winding its way through the Avenue of the Volcanoes from one end of Ecuador to the other.

Right: The highway is not only used by vehicles.  In our short stretch we saw a couple groups of sheep, cows and donkeys being herded along.  A glance back toward Quito is not a very comforting sight, as it is shrouded in dark smog.

Pan-American highway being used by sheeps and cows.

Quito shrouded in dark smog

  Virgen del Carmin, Oton Throughout Ecuador there are shrines along the roads where people come to pray for a sick person, a safe journey or to give thanks for health and prosperity.  This is the Virgen del Carmin, in Oton.  
  Cayambe rail trail The old railroad corridor extends from Quito to Ibarra.  There are sections around Cayambe that are good for cycling.  Besides always being a gentle grade it cuts through hills, winds around valleys, and passes though villages. Cayambe rail tral
  Cayambe rail trail tunnel Left: Most intriguing of the features on the old railroad are the tunnels. They are cool and bone dry inside.

Right: There are numerous limestone quarries along the rail-trail and in the vicinity.

Limestone mine
  Equator, Ecuador Where the highway passes near the equator there is a monument and some curio shops.  It seems to be requirement for visitors to get their pictures taken when they cross the equator.  The line under the bikes theoretically marks the equator  -- although new GPS equipment indicates that it is about 250m too far south.

If you live on the equator, the equator is just another jungle-gym, or perch from which to watch the tourist pass by.

Equator, Ecuador
  With modern measuring equipment the Quitsato project has marked the true equator, with an oversized sundial and some exhibits explaining the archeological evidence of the solar knowledge of previous cultures, the importance of the Andes and middle earth, the phenomena of the earth rotating on a tilted axis, and other research of the project.

It also provides another opportunity to be photographed straddling the equator -- this time the real equator.

  If you are at Quitsato on the summer solstice you can watch the sun rise above the northern most marker.  And, if you are so inclined, you can do your morning yoga on the rock and become part of the installation for a while -- I guess the yogi is wearing a bicycle helmet for safety reasons.
  Hacienda Guachala entrance Hacienda Guachala is said to be the oldest hacienda in Ecuador.  Like most hacienda, its current land area is a fraction of its original size.  And like many Ecuadorian haciendas, it is focusing more on cultivating money from tourism than the land. Hacienda Guachala overview
  Hacienda Guachala hallway Hacienda Guachala dining roomThe rooms and dining room that once housed and fed hacienda staff are now renovated to serve tourists.  The pool is in a tropical atrium and has several hammocks along side -- poolside or in a hammock seem to work equally well for wiry cyclists to power nap.
   

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