Three days after we left our comfortable home in Oxford Mississippi, we are settled in to our Casa Amarilla (Yellow House). We flew to Miami the first day and stayed the night — at least we got five hours of sleep before leaving at 3:30 AM for our flight to Quito Ecuador via a three-hour layover in Guayaquil. Quito is situated at an elevation of about 9,200 feet.
We stayed the night in Quito near the presidential palace and met a lovely Russian girl, Elia (azalea without the “az”) who was staying at the same hostal as us. She had been in South America five months on a solo quest for life direction. She spoke fluent English and had picked up enough Spanish to be our interpreter for the evening, and so we had our first Ecuadorian meal. We had shrimp and loved the freshness and flavor — without the risk of toxins that come with our post-oil-spill Gulf shrimp. Delightful meal! Delightful company! She reminded us of Caitlin in her age, strength, grace, and quiet boldness.
Yesterday started with another break-of-dawn flight from Quito to Loja. We saw breathtaking views of several snow-capped volcanoes, the tallest of which is about 22,000 feet. Our friends in Vilcabamba, Matt and Angela, had graciously arranged for someone to pick us up at the Loja airport, about 90 minutes north of Vilcabamba. We had carried a couple huge duffel bags of health food to them from their warehouse in the States. So the logistics of handling nine pieces of baggage through six airport encounters, customs, and three hotels left us exhausted at the end of the trip. But we’re not through with our story yet. When our Spanish-speaking driver dropped us at the Vilcabamba cabana we had reserved, we thought our travels were over for a couple of months. When the owner showed up, he looked at our luggage and shrugged. We didn’t understand until we started up the path from the base reception area to our cabana. It was a five-minute walk/hike nearly straight up a narrow dirt path to our incredibly primitive cabin, which didn’t really resemble the photo on the website. Very run down. Not just primitive. If we were looking to get away from it all in a truly remote location, it was perfect. But we are trying to decide if this is the place we want to live. So we didn’t unpack. We took a taxi (all of them are 4WDs here for good reason!) into Vilcabamba is search of alternative housing. We found a nice place called Casa Amarilla. It has five separate bedroom/bathroom spaces that all share a kitchen. Makes for a small community and lots of conversation and networking. Just what we need right now. So we got a taxi to take us back to our cabana to pick up our luggage. It took two trips each loaded with luggage straight up and straight down the hill to our cabana.
Anyway, we’ve already begun to see the magic of this sacred valley in action. More in the next post.