Ecuadorian Oasis

Trip Start Jan 14, 2013
Trip End Apr 15, 2013

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Flag of Ecuador  , Loja,
Monday, March 11, 2013

It seems there is some debate over the claims to longevity in Vilcabamba. Locals routinely live past a hundred and alas as a result of such a cool thing Nort Americano gringos are coming here in droves to jump on the wonder wagon. In fact it appears its not just the wonderful climate, laid back vibe and beauty that fuels the "feel good longer mantra". It's also the physical lifestyle of the real locals, good old genes and a dose of happiness also play a role. Gringos hoping to benefit from this phenomenon will likely have to pick up a hoe at six am, hike a hillside to harvest corn at six pm, spend less time gossiping and drinking cervezas at the local corner cafe and eat less red meat and dairy as the locals seem to do. Irregardless of the motives for being here it is one heck of a beautiful town. The Peruvian border is a short drive away and work has begun to pave the way to open up another option for entering / exiting Peru and Ecuador on smooth concrete. Hopefully the influx of gringo mania and open highway won't point this beautiful town in the wrong direction. To much of a good thing in a place is often followed by challenges of balance in a travel destination community.

"Marg you look great in that hat, lets say we loosen those reins, tighten these spurs and head yonder into those rolling hills tuther side of town " We have an excellent guide in Holger, great horses and perfect combination of easy off road, light trail, few ridges and slight challenges of tight trail descent and river crossing for Marg and Judy's first ride. Marg holds up the whole program as her hoss needs to stop for a four minute whiz....but after this ride both Judy and Marg are now ready to get back in the saddle again. Holger has put me on "Tornado" which I guess is one or two steps up from "Loco" or "Diablo". I quickly get the feeling Tornado likes to set the pace and is a nano nudge from full flight which is what happens when Holger gives his stallion the ok to have a little quarter mile with me, to much fun and of course I have to let Holger win.....

Hands down the best way to explore a new area is on a 250cc motorbike with two bright yellow canary motor cross helmets on and a rudimentary map of the backroads in your back pocket. We travel around 20km towards the Peruvian border heading higher into the mountains stopping at some beautiful random rock formations before turning off the highway at Yangara. Our "map" shows the little villages of Quinara, Tumianauna and Santaura looping the way along backroads another 30km back to Vilcabamba. Our first challenge is the detour sign in Yangara that requires the assistance of several curious locals making sign language to the two yellow headed gringos before putting us back on track. We lazily motor past fields of flowers, corn, citrus orchards, the three tiny villages with designated pigs, dogs and kids looking on and beautiful countryside views before descending into sugar cane laden river delta flats. Virtually no traffic along the backroads and two more miny villages to add to the local rudimentary map. Highly recommended day trip for those visiting this area.  ( Chino Bicycles and Motorbike rentals - across from the "supermarcado"). After a great week in Vilcabamba our bags are packed for the fishing village of Puerto Lopez on the Ecuadorian Pacific coast in search of ceviche and sunsets.
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