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This is part 12 of the puzzle series that started at Living the traveller's dream. Each part is solvable on its own.


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Dear Puzzling,

Unfortunately I’m nearing the end of my trip. Next week’s destination is my last one, and after that I’ll send you one final puzzle to summarise what I thought of the journey overall, as well as to point out some additional places of interest I would have liked to visit. Stay tuned for a bit longer still!

Each puzzle has five "thematic" answers, which are geographical locations all in the same country. Each is notable enough to have its own article in the English Wikipedia, although not necessarily under the same name I use. Your task is to fill the grid, highlight the thematic entries, and guess which country I am currently visiting (which is not indicated in the grid). Some of the answers will be needed in the final part of the series. Except for the last part, all others are solvable on their own without knowledge of the previous puzzles.

This week I have listened to local musicians playing on the streets, trekked in terrain formed by centuries of volcanic activity, visited the site of a massive geography-themed monument, and admired rich and unique wildlife that’s unlike anywhere else on the planet. Can you guess where I am?

Wish you were here!
Love, Gladys.

Across
6. Is murder victim tossed in salad for part of 15 down? (7,6)
9. Bars operate grand lotteries at the back (5)
12. Courageous to embrace deficiency with a bit of grapeseed oil (5,4)
17. Okay then, we will name Oscar head of WHO (4,3)
18. Penn Fellow is a bank employee (6)
20. Soft part of face around left side of mouth (4)
21. Primate of church facing evil spirit (5)
22. You once overlooked cartoon sailor as religious leader (4)
23. Smoothly massaging gal with toe (6)
24. Saturn's north pole has one evil spell leading to suffering, almost (7)
25. For example, Jonah with mischievous sea creature (9)
30. Trees before or after bushfire? (5)
32. Monument that was built from iron and stone until mom added fudge (5,3,5)

Down
1. Chick with long legs is covering AC/DC? (4)
2. Tiny droplet, small amount of liquid with oxygen in couple of bubbles (4)
3. Anatolian bread loaves include raisins and avocado toppings (4)
4. Attack from the side, destroying end of platoon giving anti-aircraft fire (4)
5. Open diamonds in card game (4)
7. Characters in Greek text about Helios? (3)
8. River over which Poles regularly cross Poland's border (4)
10. Deconstruct Wagner's first and last in band together (7)
11. Ugly old gate given professional coating to create shiny surface (4,5)
13. Doctor Who still has green stripes in the hair (9)
14. Mountain top with almost entirely enticin' surroundings (8)
15. Dad's eating game after party, describing island group (9)
16. Stop doing low-quality copy (8)
19. Writer's earnings beginning to be under past spending (7)
23. "Hello, Jack! Protecting provincial capital..." (4)
26. "... with cool weapon famously used by 28 down?" (4)
27. Large knucklehead is idle (4)
28. Silver screen's Doctor Jones is at home on vacation, disappointingly (4)
29. Vigorous precipitation, according to broadcast (4)
30. Touch wind instrument from below (4)
31. High quality video featuring Gladys, masked (3)


Gladys will return in The end of a wild ride.

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Gladys is now in:

ECUADOR! As part of her travels she visits the city of Loja, plus Galápagos, Isabela Island, Mitad del Mundo and Cotopaxi.

The resolved grid:

Completed crossword grid

Clue explanations:

Across
6. Is murder victim tossed in salad for part of 15 down? (7,6) ISABELA ISLAND = IS + ABEL (murder victim) + INSALAD*
9. Bars operate grand lotteries at the back (5) RUNGS = RUN (operate) + G (grand) + (-lotterie)S
12. Courageous to embrace deficiency with a bit of grapeseed oil (5,4) BLACK GOLD = B(LACK + G_)OLD
17. Okay then, we will name Oscar head of WHO (4,3) WELL NOW = WE’LL + N + O + W(-ho)
18. Penn Fellow is a bank employee (6) TELLER = ddef
20. Soft part of face around left side of mouth (4) LIMP = LI(M_)P
21. Primate of church facing evil spirit (5) CHIMP = CH + IMP
22. You once overlooked cartoon sailor as religious leader (4) POPE = POPE(-ye) ('ye' is 'You, once')
23. Smoothly massaging gal with toe (6) LEGATO = GALTOE*
24. Saturn's north pole has one evil spell leading to suffering, almost (7) HEXAGON = HEX + AGON(-y)
25. For example, Jonah with mischievous sea creature (9) JEWELFISH = JEW + ELFISH
30. Trees before or after bushfire? (5) ASHES = ddef/cdef
32. Monument that was built from iron and stone until mom added fudge (5,3,5) MITAD DEL MUNDO = UNTILMOMADDED*

Down
1. Chick with long legs is covering AC/DC? (4) IBIS = I(BI)S
2. Tiny droplet, small amount of liquid with oxygen in couple of bubbles (4) BLOB = L(-iquid) + O in (-bu)BB(-les)
3. Anatolian bread loaves include raisins and avocado toppings (4) LIRA = L_ + I_ + R_ + A_
4. Attack from the side, destroying end of platoon giving anti-aircraft fire (4) FLANK = FLA(-n)K
5. Open diamonds in card game (4) UNDO = UN(D)O
7. Characters in Greek text about Helios? (3) SUN = NUS<
8. River over which Poles regularly cross Poland's border (4) ODER = _O_E_ over (-polan)D + R (river) &lit
10. Deconstruct Wagner's first and last in band together (7) UNWRITE = UN(W_R)ITE
11. Ugly old gate given professional coating to create shiny surface (4,5) GOLD PLATE = OLDGATE* containing P(-rofessiona)L
13. Doctor Who still has green stripes in the hair (9) LOWLIGHTS = WHOSTILL* containing G (green)
14. Mountain top with almost entirely enticin' surroundings (8) COTOPAXI = CO(TOP)AXI(-n')
15. Dad's eating game after party, describing island group (9) GALAPAGOS = GALA + PA(GO)S
16. Stop doing low-quality copy (8) KNOCKOFF = ddef
19. Writer's earnings beginning to be under past spending (7) EXPENSE = EX (past) + PEN'S (writer's) + E(-arnings)
23. "Hello, Jack! Protecting provincial capital..." (4) LOJA = _LO JA_
26. "... with cool weapon famously used by 28 down?" (4) WHIP = W + HIP
27. Large knucklehead is idle (4) LOAF = L + OAF
28. Silver screen's Doctor Jones is at home on vacation, disappointingly (4) INDY = IN + D(-isappointingl)Y
29. Vigorous precipitation, according to broadcast (4) HALE = “Hail”
30. Touch wind instrument from below (4) ABUT = TUBA<
31. High quality video featuring Gladys, masked (3) HID = HD (High quality video) containing I (Gladys!)

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