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Welcome To Vilcabamba
"The Sacred Valley of Longevity"

This Is A Privately Circulated Blog, scribbled exclusively for Friends & Familiars, that peers into and pontificates about Expat life in the hinterlands of South America. If your eyesight is less than optimal (like mine), then just click the type size up a notch on your browser..

Here you will find a series of curmudgeonly commentaries that I've posted from atop my rickety old soapbox for the past few years. And yes, there are indeed political rantings, so place your seats in the upright position and fasten your seat belts .... it may be a bumpy ride.


I Had To Eat My Words

Sometimes we have to "eat our words", and even find them to be quite appetizing. By that I mean that we say something that we later find not to be as true as we had first thought. A case in point is the place where I am presently living here in Ecuador.

I remember saying in a previous post that I had visited an exclusive, high-end gated community called Hacienda San Joaquin, which --- while I thought it was quite beautifully developed and had all of the emenities one could ask for --- was simply not someplace that I would EVER chose to live in. I based that opinion on the fact that it was mostly a "wealthy gringo-filled" development set apart from the local community. And, of course, I felt that this was not my cupp'a tea.

However, so that you can better understand what I meant by "high-end", let me share with you some of the descriptive prose in the Hacienda's internet advertisement:

Hacienda San Joaquin

The private entrance to Hacienda San Joaquin is located about two miles from the village of Vilcabamba, where the road ends in the small  and friendly community of Chaupi. Gated and deed-restricted, the Hacienda is at the end of the road and has no thru-traffic.

The ranch is bordered and protected on three sides by the Andes Mountains and on the fourth by the Vilcabamba River. The elevation of the property rises from the valley floor at 4,839 feet to the mountain top at 6,512 feet. Most home sites are at around 5,000 feet.

Every measure has been taken to retain the serenity and peacefulness that is the essence of Hacienda San Joaquin. The riverfront and hillside homes are located on less than half of the 700 acre property. The majority of the ranch remains as a private reserve for the exclusive use of the residents and their guests. All infrastructure is in place, all roads are well-lit and asphalt paved. 

The River Park and the Equestrian and Hiking Center are also available to the residents and guests. At the heart of the property is the world-class Equestrian center. It features a separate covered entrance-way for both vehicles and pedestrians. There are two stables (forty stalls), an organic ranch store and an outdoor cafe with wonderful views of the Andes Mountains.

The home sites are lush with vegetation, birds , butterflies and honey bees. The residents of the Hacienda will be able to keep horses at home or board them in the stables. They will also be able to farm organically in the fertile soil. Thanks to the very favorable climate, residents are able to grow just about anything, including papaya, mango, guava, avocado, cherimoya, bananas, coffee, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons, limes, berries and all kinds of vegetables and flowers. 

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So-oooo, how in the world could I say that this place was simply "not my cupp'a tea"?  Why wouldn't anyone not love to live in this idylic spot?

My initial fantasy was that, like when I lived in Hawaii, I would become a part of the local indigenous community; learn their language, understand their ways, become part of their culture. The problem with this was that THEIR ways were not quite as easy to accommodate as I had thought they would be. To be perfectly frank, theirs was a VERY poor lifestyle, while my own .... even as simple as I was trying to live it ... was light years distant from the way they lived. The fact is, I was considered a "rich gringo", who didn't speak their language, living at an exclusive Hotel/Spa, and NOT at all an integral part of the local community.

Then, out of the blue, I discovered that there was a beautiful house for rent at the Hacienda San Joaquin property .... the very place where I was certain that I didn't want to live!

Let me pause for a moment here and set the stage a little better. I had been living for the past two months at a magical little hotel and spa, the Madre Tierra Hosteria. What with the daily room rate, my three meals a day, laundry, internet connection and the like, I was spending about $1,100 a month.  Not bad at all, when compared with what a similar situation would cost back in Hawaii. But then came the house at the Hacienda ... and what a change!

The monthly rent for my house at San Joaquin was $350 (including a new washer/dryer, which meant no more laundry charges), utilities (gas, water, electric) $50.00 and internet $35.00. My total food purchases for the month ran $125/00. So now we're up to a whole $560.00 ... against $1,100 at the hotel. 

With THAT kind of savings, I hired a full-time, six-day-a-week cook and housekeeper for $200 a month. Total for everything in my new home at the Hacienda, $760 or so. And that, my friends, is far less than I was paying for just my rent and utilities in Hawaii. Fact is, my last electric bill in Hana was for $385 for one month's electricity!  Now you are beginning to see why I moved to ecuador for my "retirement" years.

So here I am, living in one of the most beautiful and exclusive developments in all of Ecuador, with a whole house to myself (instead of a hotel room) a wonderful local lady to cook my meals and keep me and my house tidy, organically grown food delivered to my door almost daily, high-speed internet to keep me somewhat connected to the outside world, peaceful and quiet surroundings, etc. etc.,  ALL for almost half of what i was paying for my Madre Tierra accommodations .... and less than a THIRD of what it was costing me to live in Hana.

The view from my front door ... big lawn, white picket fence, the works

And my neighbors are not just a bunch of "wealthy, stuck-up  gringos" after all. They are folks from the US, Europe, Asia AND Ecuador of all ages who have turned out to be VERY like-minded (intellectually, spiritually and even politically!) Perhaps when I finally learn the language (which my cook/housekeeper, Marcia, is helping me with) I might be tempted to move back to Vilcabamba village ---- but I somehow doubt it.

To learn more about the magical Valley of Longevity and Vilcabamba, CLICK HERE

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