Sunday, 17 July 2016

What's so special about Ecuador?

It's time to try to unpick what I loved about Ecuador. I'm accustomed to coming home and waxing lyrical about wherever I've been, and have forged some special relationships in some of the countries I visit (Nepal springs to mind).

So what was so magical about Ecuador?

Firstly, I think it was because I felt healthier there than in any other place I've stayed - and that includes at home in England. The climate in the mountains is comfortable - warm with occasional tropical showers. (So no chilly damp days that make my knees complain.) It's much hotter by the coast - it does lie on the equator - but there are plenty to palm trees to provide shade during the middle of the day.

Then, the food. They can grow fruit and vegetables from the tropical flatlands (rice, pineapples, mangoes) to high in the mountains (apples, pears, potatoes). Which means a wonderful variety and everything. And they make the best soup in the world: the locra de papa, which is a potato soup with cheese and avocado, and filling enough to satisfy me at lunchtime.

I had not realised, before I went, just how varied and exciting the scenery is - and, with it, the complexity of birds, animals, insects and reptiles. I was woken by howler monkeys in the rainforest and frigate birds on the coast. Raptors soar over the mountains. Iguanas have made themselves at home in a small garden plaza in Guayaquil.

And then there's the Galápagos Islands. It's humbling to visit somewhere so unique and so precious. These islands raise countless environmental issues. They are beautiful and the animals extraordinary. I look at my photographs and I'm still astonished at some of the things I saw.

All of which is very interesting - but would be nothing but 'woman has fun in South America' if it weren't for the people I met. Those of you who have read about some of my other travels will expect me to write about the people. I met extraordinary kindness. Susi - quiet, gentle, and observant, is now a friend. Marco, not the most knowledgeable of guides but he worked so hard to make me happy, even in the market.

Does that begin to get to grips with what was so special? I've tried to fill in the details in Frogs and Frigate Birds.


  1. In the end, it's always the people, Jo, isn't it? I've just come back myself from a magical journey, but without the people, the memories would just be scenery. I'm looking forward to reading about who you met there! :)

  2. Hi-ya. I read "Frogs and Frigate Birds," and would be happy to leave a review for it on Goodreads, but I couldn't find it listed there. If you list it, let me know. :)

    1. Thanks for this - will let you know when I list it on Goodreads - I haven't used the site for ages so will have to remember how to do it!

  3. I've just finished your book,loved it and will be posting review on my blog shortly.