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  • Writer's pictureCharlys Trevino

The Valley of Longevity-Vilcabamba

Vilcabamba is a village in Southern Ecuador famously known as the valley of longevity because it was said that the some of it's population lived to be a 100 years old or more. Legend has it that this valley was a "retreat" for Incan royalty.

Known for it's ideal climate and beautiful nature this sleepy little village was where people from nearby Loja would come visit on the weekends. Until, it was dubbed a "Blue zone, one of the healthiest places to live" and the whole world began to take notice of Vilcabamba.

I wish I could go back in time and be one of the first foreigners to have visited this village back in the 70's. I imagine the villagers were delighted to see extranjeros visiting, all a while envisioning the potential for the village to grow economically with this new founded interest. But the foreigners kept coming not just to visit but to stay and eventually the village lost it's identity and for the most part it's culture.

The loss was palatable when I visited. In town, there were more expats then locals. North American stores and restaurants were the majority. I think I found only a few authentic Ecuadorian eateries at the edge of town.

Most of the locals now live in communities outside of the main village but they depend on their lively hood to come from the gringos who reside here. The majority of gringos who have migrated to Vilcabamba are not your average Joe who is looking to live longer but extremists.

Some living in gated communities in huge houses believing they are better and more powerful. Not fairly paying the locals for work they've done etc. Others, living in the village demanding the locals change their products in the local stores to be more "organic" or to stop selling harmful products like cigarettes and alcohol. Seriously?! The arrogance is baffling.

In return, the locals have become more hostile toward the gringos. Home invasions are common in this village now days. I believe the Inca gods are pretty pissed off and this wonderful little paradise will soon vanish.

I will never understand why some people move to another country and instead of embracing the cultural existing they want to change it to become more like the cultural they just left?! I was sadden by what is happening to this beautiful place.

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