Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Apparently they all ended up here in Vilcabamba.

I’ve never seen so many old and tie-dye clad people – sometimes they’re the ones and the same – since… Well, never, actually.

Vilcabamba is experiencing some sort of gringo boom, it seems like. It’s especially popular with the retired folks. We came to Vilcabamba on our way to Peru from Baños. We didn’t really know what to expect – but surely we didn’t expect a town overrun with expats and hippies.

Handsome Vilcabamba main square and church

Handsome Vilcabamba main square and church

And we thought Baños was filled with gringos. It’s not that Vilcabamba is touristy but there does seem to be quite a disproportionate ratio of english speakers population over 40’s for the town of this size.

Which we don’t really mind by itself. They’re a friendly bunch.

But here I am, in a small Ecuadorian town at a cafe owned by someone named Charlie, watching some sexganerians talking gossip, US’ healthcare and debt ceiling, while sipping $1 cold beer in the middle of the day. Some Cumbia (to be exact, Gerardo Moran’s ‘En Vida’) music blaring from across the street.

It gives me the hibby jibbies.

As I was thinking about what it is about this town that gives me such a hibby jibbies, I realised right now I could be anywhere in the Bay Area, California.

As I’m typing here, conversations about US politics in American English fill the airwaves.

Then there’s the yoga, the mediation, the natural yogurt place, the ‘Biodynamic farming workshop’, the raw food potluck…

The mountains, the weather, the English speaking people manning the storefronts and the Spanish speakers working at the back.

The painting of aliens and unicorns on our hostel’s wall (ok, maybe this is not so big in our part of California).

Seen on a wall in Vilcabamba

Seen on a wall in Vilcabamba

After days after days of adrenaline filled activity and partying in Baños, we found the energy level of this town disorientingly low.

As we crouched over our laptops in small cafe, trying to figure out what to do, I looked at Jack and said, ‘Let’s get out of here…’

He nodded, ‘Where to?’

I shrugged, ‘Well, Vilcabamba is sorta at the end of the road in Ecuador. I guess Peru?’

Vilcabamba is lovely and is very tranquillo. I can see why people come here and never leave.

But it’s just not what we’re in the mood for right now. We’re feeling just a tad homesick and looking for something to distract us, not a quiet little place to think about life and stuff. Or to get a Reiki massage. There will be time for that. But not now.

I guess we’re leaving for Peru tomorrow.

Info box:
Where to stay in Vilcabamba: We stayed at Valle Sagrado (a block away from the main square). For $6, it’s ok. No wifi.
Where to get wifi: Both Charlitos and ‘Sugar and Spice’ bakery offer wifi for $1/day