The Calm at the Center of the World

Crossing the Equator in Ecuador

Traveling close to the equator can mean only one thing: Neptune, King of the Seas, is about to appear. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Traveling close to the equator can mean only one thing: Neptune, King of the Seas, is about to appear. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

On the list of things I am excited about when contemplating my trip to the Galapagos Islands, crossing the equator is not an entry. What is there really to trill about when passing over an imaginary line?

Crossing-the-line celebrations featuring an appearance by Neptune, king of the seas, have long been tradition when sea-going sorts achieve a latitude of 00°00’0”. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Crossing-the-line celebrations featuring a bit of cross-dressing as well as an appearance by Neptune, king of the seas, have long been tradition when seagoing sorts achieve a latitude of 00°00’0”. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

So even though I am in a country called Ecuador and enjoying immensely my sightings of sea lions and blue-footed boobies and volcanoes and sharks and iguanas when I am not resting on the top deck of Ecoventura’s Eric and staring at the stars, I am surprised when Neptune, king of the seas, shows up one night dressed for a party. I hadn’t realized that achieving a latitude of 00°00’0” is a bit of a thing, a cause for celebration. But it is. The party is a bit of a folly of opposites, a mingling of crew and cruisers, silliness and ceremony all in one.

The king of the seas provides paperwork to seagoers who cross the equator. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

The king of the seas provides paperwork to seagoers who cross the equator. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Everyday problems seem very far away here in the middle of the planet, right at that point where North meets South. Here, there are no worries about new assignments, tuition payments, health crises. What bothered me at the beginning of my week in Ecuador does not concern me as much now. Why not just cross that line and dance with Neptune?

—Lori Tripoli

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