Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Equator

I remember the first time I crossed the equator. I was on my way to Tanzania, and we came in low over Lake Victoria to refuel at Entebbe. I think I was as excited as those whose sea voyages involved some kind of ceremony involving Neptune.

In this part of the Rift Valley, crossing the equator is commonplace. In fact, for all who travel between Nairobi and Western Kenya, because of wiggly roads, it may happen several times on one journey. But fortunately, the Local Arrangements Committee anticipated that for some living further north or south, it could be a memorable experience, so we went out in the early evening, after heavy rains, just a few miles up the road from Nakuru, to a visitor center that is being developed on the equator, to check out if this would be a good place to visit on excursion day.

With partnership funding from the European Union, a small visitor center building with maps and geographical information has been built. There are steps to a metal globe sculpture which offers photo opportunities as well as a place for performances such as choirs. Over the road are small shops where a women’s cooperative sells high quality handicrafts. There is also a pitcher of water and container to test out the question of whether the water really does go down the plughole clockwise and anticlockwise, depending on where you are standing in the northern or southern hemisphere.

William Kimosop, who is in charge of this, is a visionary. He sees the symbolism of the equator linking nations and continents, and wants donations of large flags for the flagpoles (they get worn and frayed quickly in the wind and sun.) He would like to see gardens planted to beautify the area. He wants to develop a walking trail throughout Kenya, based on the Trans Canada Trail, which he had studied. I loved his enthusiasm. Yes, this would be a good place to visit in 2012. I’m not sure if we can capture William’s vision of 1,000 Friends all gathered there for a session, but certainly it would be good for some of the excursions to visit.

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