When I was in Cuba I met a family from Germany; their eldest son was working in Ecuador and they described a fascinating country. Had I been there? they asked. No ... and, the more they talked, the more a visit seemed like a very good idea.
Yet, even now, I have no idea what to expect.
So here is the little that I do know:
I have no idea how stable their politics are, though I do know there should be no elections while I'm there. Like most countries, there can be occasional demonstrations - I'm used to staying well away from those.
I know there are some wonderful markets - so hopefully I find some treasures for daughters and grandchildren, and for the friends who look after my house while I'm away.
I know there are some wonderful mountains - Quito (the capital) is located at about 9000 feet. Cotopaxi, one of the main volcanoes, has been hissing a bit in recent months, but has had no serious eruptions for decades. I know how to run away from molten lava. (I shall also be visiting the hot springs, which will be fun. I'll let you know if they smell as bad as Rotorua!)
I know that there are a number of national parks, aimed at protecting the rainforest and associated wildlife in the upper reaches of the Amazon. There are anacondas, and boas, and no doubt a scorpion or two. But the lodge where I'm staying is remote and beautiful, and have guides who know how to keep us all safe. (Those who have read about my last trip to Nepal will know that one close encounter with a crocodile is enough to last a lifetime!)
I have done my best to learn Spanish, so I shouldn't get into the sort of tangles that made Cuba such a challenge. I believe I can get myself understood now. But I've no idea if I can understand replies.
I can't find out how much the climate is affected by the current El Niño. But there have, in the past, been floods in Puerto Lopez (where I hope to have a few days by the sea). I've no idea if there have been storms in the Galapagos - nor the impact they may have on the wildlife there. Nor if storms might mean that I spend my Galapagos week sheltering in a harbour somewhere.
I will have wifi some of the time - but it may be slow. So blogging, tweeting, facebooking will all be a bit hit and miss. Just assume I'm fine - and wait for tales of my adventures till I get home. (I honestly don't know if I'll write a book about this trip - it depends how I get on.)
Maybe I need to do more googling, find out a bit more, considering I'm leaving in a couple of days.