Chachapoyas, Peru- The memory of easy living just two weeks ago in the Galapagos Islands is rapidly fading away. I’m on a different planet now. Peru. Finally. It hasn´t been easy getting here.
Without really knowing what was going to happen with the protests against the TLC, I took a chance and flew back to Quito from the Galapagos islands. No problem. The indigenous coalitions announced a respite for Holy Week (Semana Santa) and I decided to take advantage of that to stick to my original plan of heading into Peru through the Andean highlands, thereby avoiding the notorious border crossing on the coast. I made it to the lovely city of Cuenca, and then further on south through winding brilliantly green mountains to the small village of Vilcabamba- a traveler´s haven in the valley of eternal spring. (typical storefront in Cuenca to the left)
Vilcabamba will suck you in and refuse to spit you out. Surrounded by verdant fruitful mountains with loads of paths leading into some of the most ecologically diverse forest in the Andes, it is also home to a pack of hostels, with travelers tending to gather in the cafes along the central plaza to laugh and smoke and drink and swap stories. And play Jenga.
(The hills around Vilcabamba to the right) A crew of expats from various countries make their homes here, and tend to keep the passing travelers well-occupied (particularly Mick, the mad Englishman. But you will have to ask me in person about Mick). The “water of life” that springs from the nearby hillsides is said to improve longevity, with some of the residents in the area living many years beyond the norm. I stayed twice as long as planned. Many stay for weeks or years.