The smell of weed fills the air and dream catchers hang in the air. Dreadlocked gringos strum ukeles and guitars to Andean rhythms while a man in tie dyed pants swims through imaginary water and the gray haired gringa obeys an unseen puppet master.
This isn’t a bar in the Haight in San Francisco. Nor is it the Ecuador I’d quite imagined from the pictures of indigenous women bearing tropical fruit and marine lizards. The town of Vilcabamba Ecuador is famous for being a hippie haven and lives up to its name.
I went accompanied by a handsome Spaniard, a molecular biologist who’d left his job to travel the world, which was a cultural experience in itself.
A 10 minute walk from the town square and we found ourselves along rolling dirt roads. Cutting edge adobe construction houses combine the clay of the earth and cement into ecohippiechic blindingly white domes. The inhabitants tend their organic garden and dogs lie in the shade all day. Vilcabamba boasts having an abnormal number of centenarians living there due to the tranquil lifestyle or perhaps something on the water. A quick google search finds more articles on the residents habitual exaggeration of their ages but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a little truth behind it.
When not lying in the shade somewhere there is plenty of untamed wilderness to be seen. We hiked 3 hours on a completely unmarked trail leads to a secluded waterfall “las cascadas”. Perhaps the hiking also contributes to the famed longevity, or maybe it’s the marijuana-induced relaxation.