Travel inspiration: Why Ecuador and its food and wildlife is the trip of a lifetime

While we’re forced to stay put, it’s the perfect time to look back at the travels that made us who we are. This week, Maggie Wicks recalls Ecuador’s blue-footed boobies and smooth criminals.

In 2006, I was 25 years old and single.

Or least, about to be single. I had a boyfriend – and a nice one at that. But all I wanted was to travel.

I had chosen Ecuador. It was compact and yet seemed to contain the whole world – rainforests, cities, beaches, culture, interesting food and wildlife. I hadn’t learnt about it in school, I didn’t speak any Spanish, and I didn’t know anyone who had been there. It was perfect.

I don’t remember ever inviting my boyfriend to come with me. Travelling alongside someone felt like a compromise to me. This was my trip – I wanted full say on everything. I wanted to go alone.

I had travelled solo once before. When I was 19, I took three months to claim my birthright in the UK. It had ended in a basement squat in London, calling home collect, waiting for a spare flight out of Heathrow, broke, lonely, homesick, and completely in love with travel.

Now with a degree and a couple of years’ work experience under my belt, I was taking off, with no return date.

I travelled night and day, and in and out of weeks, and Ecuador brought adventure after adventure my way. I pierced my nose, I saw a tarantula in a hostel awning, I spent a month in the beautiful highland town of Cuenca exploring catacombs and studying Spanish, and I danced with other students in salsa clubs where the men would whisper, “Hey, mummy” in our ears.

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