The Romans called it “Carpe Diem”, enjoy the day or the moment. Ecuadorians call it “Disfrute la vida”, enjoy life, an epicurean way of life with a Latin touch.
We got up early Sunday morning. That’s what you have to do if you want the freshest best choice of fruits and vegetables at Vilcabamba’s market. The whole town shows up Sunday mornings to gather food for the week. There are plenty of mini grocery stores scattered throughout Vilcabamba, all about the size of the average American bedroom. But there are no grocery stores in the traditional American sense of the word.
We find our bodies’ bio-rhythms naturally adjusting to the rhythms of the season here. In Oxford, we would go to bed around midnight and get up around 9 am. In Ecuador, sunrise happens at 7 am and sunset at 7pm. We wake up around sunrise (partly thanks to the countless chickens crowing everywhere!) and find ourselves getting sleepy at dark (could be all the walking we do each day!).
The place for expats to gather in Vilcabamba seems to be the Juice Factory. It’s a restaurant that sells organic smoothies and soups. People sit around for hours just chatting about world politics, the state of the US economy, astrophysics, or the last therapeutic massage they received down the street. They don’t dwell on what’s wrong with the world. They acknowledge that the American economy is going straight to hell in a handbasket, but they’ve done something about it. They left for a safer saner place where they can live a sustainable life free of growth hormones and processed sugars. Do we miss chips and packaged cookies and Haagen Dazs ice cream? You bet! But we’ve been completely satisfied eating fresh fruit just picked from the garden or orchard that day, or nuts, or REAL chocolate made from cocoa plants in Ecuador.
Today we’ll go to the meat market and buy a whole fryer to cook for supper tonight. It will be so fresh, we probably heard it wake us up this morning! We’ll cook it with fresh green beans and potatoes that we got from the market yesterday. It’s an adjustment but totally worth it. I had an organic salad yesterday that was grown entirely from the restaurant owner’s garden and picked fresh that morning. It was fabulous! We have learned to understand the meaning of “Disfrute la vida”. People are much more in tune with Mother Earth here, and are deeply grateful for her blessings.