Vilcabamba for the Holidays

VilcaCentral(my pic) Central Church Vilcabamba

Take a good look at the above picture. Extreme R. is a real estate office, to the left is a tarp and someone is working on something, continuing L. is an ATM (there is another ATM to the right of the real estate sign), next is the church. In front of the church is a truck parked so as to unload musical instruments. The truck belongs to the Loja symphony orchestra. To the left of the truck is a restaurant, an internet cafe, and another bank with another ATM.  The church is at the extreme Southern end of the square.

The above is an often repeated theme for the layout of the central park of many a town/pueblo throughout Central and South America. The park is surrounded on all sides with small town streets. (sometimes, as here, one or more of the roads is not open to vehicular traffic) The other three streets (E,W, and N) have restaurants, hardware store, mini markets, another real estate office, craft shops, and tour agencies.

SoSideOfCentralParkVilcaView of a garden section at the Southern end of the park.  (see the front of the truck?)

Am staying in a hostel where I know the Ecuadorian proprietors. Only been here one night and a day. Have made contact with many previously made friends and acquaintances. Saw my welder buddy with whom I left my Henrob gas (welding) torch on previous trips here. He uses it regularly, I was very happy to learn.

Photo2011L.Man100yrsR.Ma 98yrs.

The above photo is of a wall mural hanging inside a local restaurant

Featured are these two young gents from Vilcabamba. The man on the left was 100 years old and his pal to the right was 98 when this pic was taken in 2011. I have seen the fellow on the Right sitting in a chair in front of his house on a street in town.  They don’t throw the old folks under the bus around here. They are respected and appreciated fellow members of the community. I saw a  man in his 80’s sitting on the ground cutting pasture grass/weeds with a machete, in the hill country not far from here. Just to get to his finca (farm)where I observed him would require you do hike UPhill for about an hour and a half.


The above photo is facing North; taken on the West side of the park

I will go through my gear one final time, honing it  down to eliminate any ‘excess’.  Only want to take ‘essentials’ with me on the river journey.  The upcoming boat rides on the Rio Napo and Amazon river will be a very different way to ‘journey’.  It’s not an easy thing to decide on what to take and what to leave. I want to be prepared (yes, I was a boy scout) but I don’t want to be having to mind/maintain/watch over things I won’t be using.  Also, I don’t know what to expect about space aboard these boats. My research leads me to believe that they are ‘cargo’ boats… so….  my ‘cargo’ should be OK. The other issue is keeping a constant ‘eye’ on stuff, which is complicated when you are a lone traveler. Happily, I have (re)secured a place to stash my excess gear during my journey.  I know it will be here waiting for me when I return next year. It’s good to have friends.

Had a sidewalk conversation with one of the long time residents of Vilca who emigrated here from Germany some 20 years ago or so.  Roland is always interested in my adventures. He looks to be about my age (sixty something).  He said the Amazon is a journey he had always wanted to take but never did. He described an idea for a vessel he was thinking of building to do the journey. He was going to use pvc pipes applied to a catamaran design. He was interested to know how wide the Amazon was where the Napo flowed into it.  I assured him I would take note of it and take pictures as well. I also reported to him the story of the 80 something gent from England who recently crossed the Atlantic in a (industrial drain pipe) pvc pipe vessel.

I rented my first horse in Vilcabamba in 2011.  Went on an all day ride to a waterfall up in the hills and back. While walking around town I saw the man who was my guide on the horse trek. He was working on his 4×4 truck in front of his house. Angel, (pronounced Ang hel) had a left front interior door panel off and wires were poking out. He was pleasantly surprised to see me.  We exchanged a few pleasantries. He likes horses and he has a motorcycle. We have common ground. He asked  me if I knew anything about why his electric window wasn’t working. I told him I knew very little, but suggested that if there was electricity at the wires, that  it seemed to me it could only be one of three things. I suggested making contact with a wire directly between the batter and the window motor. If the motor worked then, I’d think it would have to be the switch or a bad ground.

He put the interior door panel back on and invited me to ride with him to give rides to a couple of friends who had called, not far away.  The pace is easy in these parts.  No one is in much of a hurry about much of anything.  They do real work around here.  Lot’s of it. Work does not dominate or control their lives.  They work to make a living. They don’t live to make a ‘working’.  Many folks here do not own a vehicle of any kind. Young folks tend to have small motorcycles. Most folks just ride buses and walk. Angels friends did not have cars or motorcycles.

Will be here for Christmas and New Year. Why not? I’ve made friends here and I’m not in that pressed for time.  The Amazon is not going anywhere for the next few months. It will be there when I get there.