After staying more than two weeks in Cuenca we’ve moved south to Vilcabamba where we will stay another two weeks. On Saturday we took a shuttle van from Cuenca which eliminated an extra couple of hours and a bus transfer from our trip. The ride was about 5 hours long and truly spectacular. The scenery was breathtaking. I almost wish that I had rented a car so that we could take it slow and stop to explore the quaint mountain villages.
Vilcabamba is a sleepy little town that everyone recommends. It is located directly off the highway with a central square and just a few paved streets jutting off in each of the four directions. The town is situated in the self proclaimed valley of longevity. Supposedly it got that name from the many centenarians here, but I believe that it is promoted this way to get more retired foreign tourists to come spend their money.
There are a disproportionate amount of foreigners here. Perhaps more than half the town consists of expats. The main language I hear spoken in cafés and in the central plaza is English with a smattering of Spanish, French, and German here and there. Whereas Cuenca is the Del Webb community of Ecuador, Vilcabamba is where all the old hippies have come to settle. There are a few cafés and juice bars, you can even get kombucha here.The town square is excellent for people watching as you can see all kinds of interesting types. This place reminds me of a beachless Sayulita 20 years ago.
There are many homesteaders here and that is actually what our Airbnb is. We are staying at a farm about a mile outside of town with composting toilets and a rainwater collection system. There are horses, donkeys, a pig, and all kinds of fruit trees . The farm is run by a Swiss-American family that is using all kinds of interesting building and farming methods. My homesteading friends need to give me good questions to ask my host.
The host built a separate house for the airbnb with an outdoor kitchen and huge wrap around patio. The rooms we are staying in are upstairs, above the kitchen. They also have another couple of rooms that they rent out, as well as allowing tent and rv camping on their property. We have met some intersting people here, since we all share the outdoor kitchen space, common showers, and composting toilet. I love the outdoor kitchen concept and will definitely apply it to any home that we eventuallybuild. The composting toilet isn’t as bad as I thought it would be and is something I may also consider in our future plans. I am looking forward to exploring the area more in the next two weeks, since there are loads of trails and opportunities to spend time outdoors here.