By Robert Bradley
It is early morning in Vilcabamba.
Roosters are crowing and dogs are barking, each clamoring for attention and stating their purpose and intentions for the day — a cacophony of insistence and urgency that is oddly enjoyable. The air is still, weighted with the scent of flowers desperately advertising their most outlandish designs, mingling vibrant yellows, pinks, blues, and reds so deep the color runs through your veins.
Somewhere down the valley, the last of the revelers are slipping away — their throats raw from sugar cane liquor and singing tributes to the night before. Fully indulged hearty laughter can be heard as goodbyes are exchanged and empty promises made. I can barely make out the soft humming of an accordion, a few guitars murmuring along, and the last plaintive voice of someone wishing it would never end.
The ribbon of streetlights will soon be replaced by a band of gold brighter by the moment until the day begins again. Birds will replace the revelers with song equally cheering and far sweeter in tone and variation.
When the day warms and the light is right, I will walk into town to see the freshly painted church. I hear it is fanciful, capricious, witty, and odd. Fortunately, today is the market day for many local gringos and Ecuadorians wishing to sell their homemade wares. Soaps and bagels. Bangles and reeds, herbs, remedies known by few, and trinkets needed by fewer will crowd the sidewalk. So will conversation overriding the squeals of children, the shock of spilled coffee, and the joyous greetings of friends. I have much to look forward to in this charming little village.
I am staying at Hosteria Izhcayluma, a very pleasant retreat owned and managed by two brothers.
Originally from Germany, Dieter and Peter blend an attention to detail with a cool laid back vibe that suits the place perfectly. I love the many surprises folded into their landscape design and appreciate the calming woodsy feel of the rooms. The staff is first rate, dinners are delicious, and a vitality that encourages the weary traveler and adventurous hiker in equal measure permeate the grounds. This is a lovely place to stay and I am so glad I took this time to visit.
I planned on writing about relieving the ravages of grief through service this week, but I will save that for another time. It is enough to simply drink in the day, listen to chickens gossip, bewildered dogs barking for attention, and the drone of bees visiting the many palaces built to entice them.
Vilcabamba is too lovely today to do anything more than simply drink it all in with gratitude to have come to this place on this day.