Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gringo Retirement Mansions in Vilcabamba

On my hike into town today, I realized the terracotta farmhouses I was describing weren't farmhouses, but enormous gringo retirement mansions. Vilcabamba is the Boca Raton of Ecuador. As I ate a delicious kale salad from Cafe Juice, I noticed I was surrounded only by white people over 60. This is partly because Vilcabamba is rumored to be one of the healthiest places on the planet and partly because property is incomprehensibly inexpensive here. I have seen postings for amazing properties that rest on the mountainside for less than 25,000. And the cost of living is near nothing as well. A large goji berry and acai smoothie, a huge bowl of vegetarian brown rice soup, an overflowing plate of salad, and a homemade nutella filled croissant cost all of $7. And that was at the expensive restaurant. Most provide a three course lunch for $2.50, but I was in the mood for fruits and vegetables.

We meant to get on a night bus to Peru, but when we arrived at the bus station in Loja, both buses for the night were already sold out. The downside is that this will take off a day in Trujillo. The upside is that we don't have to sleep on a bus and will go through border control at 4am.

We quickly consulted the Lonely Planet at the bus station and decided that Hotel Metropolitan sounded like the best option. I suppose it was probably the best, but that really doesn't say much. We had a room with four cots clad in ruffly pink comforters from the 70s that aren't exactly comforters because they are barely thicker than a sheet. There are retro plastic cubes for windows, the ones you might see in retro basement bars. Not to mention the beds were boards. It was the second worst hostel I have stayed in on this trip, second only to Desert Nights. At least it was safe, especially after we pulled the card table in front of the door for good measure.

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