Tuesday, December 3, 2013

VILCABAMBA, ECUADOR - We headed South to the Valley of Longevity....

A view from the dining room at the Hosteria Izhcayluma.  What a magical retreat to experience!

Soon, it will be our ONE YEAR anniversary living in the Historic City of Cuenca.   Being "jubilado" and living in a breathtaking South American country continues to give us the feeling that we're on this perpetual vacation.  So leaving Cuenca for a few days to have a supposedly mini-vacation seemed almost absurd, since life here is already a vacation.  Yes, I know, we still have our "ground-hog-day" daily routine things we do, like shopping, cooking, cleaning, doctor appointments, classes, blah, blah, blah.  Only, it's different now.  Oh, so different!  We have no schedule!  We go to bed when we want and wake up when we want (Oh, how nice it is not to hear an irritating alarm clock go off in the "way too early" morning hours!!).  Our days are FREE until we make a plan!  We shop daily at our open markets, and that is so much more appealing than going into a traditional grocery store (unless we need a specific unavailable market item).  Cleaning our cozy tiny apartment takes little time (love not having the daily upkeep of a huge house and high-maintenance acreage).  Cooking is fun and never a chore - since Bo does most of it because he enjoys it so much.  Eating out is so inexpensive, so if we don't want to cook, we "restaurant" it!!  We're still both pretty healthy, so we only spend time at routine dental and medical checkups here.  Classes - yeah, that would mostly be Bo who is taking Spanish lessons.  I haven't been back to my knitting class since we returned from our USA trip.  I'm realizing that learning to knit is probably not for me!!  I also don't like having to be committed to classes or any scheduled appointment on a regular basis.  Being retired allows both of us to be FREE from a set schedule (which is why I decided to quit teaching English here on a set weekly schedule).

Some of our best of times have been enjoying special people we've connected with in Cuenca this past year, and we continue to meet new and interesting people daily just walking around town, sitting at Parque Calderon, having coffee at Cafe Nucallacta, going to art events, or introductions through our regular acquaintances and special friends.  Not a day goes by that we don't run into someone we know.  We enjoy having free time to stop and chat and catch up without having to be somewhere.  Our days and weeks seem to always be booked with "people time" or daily Cuenca activities in this artistic and happening city.  Lately, we've been freeing up our crazy busy schedule so we can begin to travel more and explore areas outside of Cuenca.  

Vilcabamba had been on our list for awhile as a place to visit, and we finally made the long journey, via private van, with several of our Bible fellowship friends.  This trip had a significant purpose - to get acquainted with a specific Ecuadorian bible fellowship group living there. Now we have an even greater reason to visit Vilcabamba.  This Ecuadorian church family truly embraced us and invited us to come back again SOON!

Yes, we had a fabulous three days away from the city exploring this peaceful and small "earth muffin" community that has the feel of a USA west coast hippie town. It's a place where many ex-pats have decided to settle for the warmer climate and solitude this area of Ecuador seems to offer them. 

A view of the town of Vilcabamba from our "Hosteria"

Ahhhh, the beauty of the southern Andes and it's amazing plants and foliage!

The dining room of Hosteria Izhcayluma where we had amazing "desayuno" - fresh fruit, eggs, wholesome breads, juices, coffee, and granola.  Every morning was a banquet feast!

VILCABAMBA is about 30 miles from Loja, Ecuador.  Year round temperatures are spring-like and range from 65 to 85 degrees.

Our three days and two nights at the Hotel Izhcayluma was a vacation retreat.  We had our own private cabin and the rooms were quiet, comfortable, and artistically appointed. Our bill at this elegant resort came to $84 for our two nights and two meals (breakfast was included in the daily room rate).  In the USA, this would have been over $200 a night. 

The views from our private terrace were breathtaking, to say the least!

The grounds were tropical, magical, and a photographer's delight!

The tropical plants were magnificent in color, type, fragrance, and beauty.

Chess anyone???  What creative grounds to walk around and explore!

The Vilcabamba "Juice Factory" was packed with lounging gringos this hot and sunny morning.

Church at the Vilcabamba square

Parque Central where the locals find time to relax

Vendors are always available to sell their handcrafted wares

While many sport umbrellas back in wintery and rainy Bluegene, Oregon, here umbrellas help protect the locals and gringos from the amazing Ecuador sunshine. 

Ahhhhh, more breathtaking cloud formations amidst the brilliant blue skies

I fell in love with Vilcabamba because it is quiet, quaint, and truly out of the ordinary!

Year-round tropical-type plants adorn the terraces

The Mandango mountain- considered a sacred place

After an exceptionally warm afternoon exploring the town of Vilcabamba, we walked along magical paths surrounded by incredible gardens and vegetation at our hotel retreat.

This soothing waterfall pond was a perfect place to sit and mediate upon the beauty of God's perfect creation, the peacefulness of this magnificent retreat and our three-day escape from the daily hustle-bustle of city life.

As for me, I think Vilcabamba is a wonderful place to visit and explore, but Cuenca is truly my most fabulous city - and it is always good to return home again!


  1. You two have a great blog. Looking forward to a long lunch when we finally get there. Still about two months away... Write and let me know what your monthly budget has been for your first year. I have been out of touch for a while. Going to spend an hour right now reading your older blogs... Hasta pronto. George and Chad

    1. Hi George,
      Glad you continue to enjoy our Blog. I'll definitely do a post of our monthly budget this past year - just for you! Hurry up and get here - promises, promises! Seriously, I know all the planning, preparations, purging, and packing involved in this arduous and life-changing process. Yet, soon you'll be here, sitting with Bo and me over a delicious $2 lunch! That alone will make it all worth it (LOL).
      Do stay in touch.
      I still promise you a delicious Puerto Rican meal at our humble flat when you settle in!!
      Con Amor,

  2. Enjoy the warmth. There is snow and below freezing weather in the Eugene area now. Snow on the beach in Lincoln City. I am glad you both like it there.

    1. Welcome to our Blog, Terry,
      And thank you for your comment. I so enjoy hearing from our readers. Not sure where you live, but your weather report makes me sooooooooo happy I'm here and not there. Read my most recent "One Year Annivesary in Cuenca" post and you'll see how much I like it here!!!!
      I hope you continue to enjoy my posts and photography.

  3. Hi Linda,
    I hadn't received notification of a new blog for quite q while, so I decided to visit your blog site. And sure enough, there were several blogs I had misses. So I'm not sure how I got bumped from the notification list. I will check with your blog more often. God bless and Happy New Year!

  4. Hi Carolyn,
    So sorry you got bumped! Hopefully you were able to sign back up (not sure how to do this myself).
    Glad to hear from you and may your New Year be blessed beyond words!
    Do stay in touch,

  5. Hello Linda, your post from Vilcabamba was wonderful. Thank you for sharing the adventures that you and your husband are having now. We was so encouraged to see that there are Bible Fellowship groups in Ecuador and that is such an important part of our life here in our small town in Wyoming. We are looking at traveling to Ecuador and my husband is interested in visiting Vilcabamba so your pictures and story were heartwarming to us. We will keep you and Bo in our prayers.

    1. Hi Paulette,
      Thank you for prayers! Please stay in touch, and let us know when you are finally coming to Cuenca. Yes, you will love the Vilcabamba area - it is an absolutely lovely area of Ecuador. Continue to journey with us as I continue to post about our life in Ecuador.
      God bless you both,

  6. Hi Linda, what a lovely spot for a getaway. Gorgeous photos, as always.

    I'm back with another question. In this post you mentioned people carrying umbrellas as sun shades, but I haven't noticed any in your Cuenca photos?

    Except for indigenous women, none of the women in Cuenca seem to wear hats to shade them from the sun, or am I just not noticing them?

    Cheers, Polly

    1. Hola Polly,
      Some here carry umbrellas, some use a folded shawl or blanket on their heads, some wear hats, and some don't bother with any sun protection. It all depends on who you are. Personally, I don't even wear sunscreen here. After 40 years in Oregon's Willamette Valley with long overcast rainy winters, I bask in the sun and want ALL I can get!
      Have a lovely day,


Leave us your comments and I will respond with any questions you may have. Enjoy our Blog! Linda (y Bo)