Billkuh--BOMbah! Ishkuh--LOOmah! If you thought this was the incantation of a sorcerer casting a magic spell you wouldn't be too far off base. These are the phonetic pronunciations of where Cynthia and I spent the past week, and there we happily experienced a special kind of magic.
Vilcabamba, located four hours south of Cuenca, is known worldwide as the Valley of Longevity. It seems a disproportionate number of centenarians reside there, and I've come away thinking that fantastic scenery and major league chillaxin' are a big part of the secret formula.
Our excursion got off to a great start when the private van provided by our hosteria actually showed up right on time (never expected--always appreciated). We and our good friends the Stephenson's climbed aboard and enjoyed beautiful vistas and a bottle of wine on the way. Hey, we weren't driving!
We arrived at Izhcayluma
in time to quickly check in, head to our rooms,
and be greeted by the sight of an inviting hammock as we climbed the stairs.
In the distance was the most wondrous landscape imaginable.
Peter and Karen had been here before, but this was our first visit and we were absolutely blown away. Magic was indeed alive.
Izhcayluma bills itself as providing a resort experience at backpacker prices. With comfortable rooms featuring killer stone walled walk-in showers, stunning grounds,
full service restaurant,
bar with pool and ping pong tables, and, yes, super low prices, you'll get no argument from this guy.
We spent most of our visit right there on the property. Wandering around looking at the scenery,
enjoying multiple spa treatments, lounging by the pool, marveling at gorgeous sunsets,
eating too much good food and drinking WAY too much wine--next thing you know it's time for bed!
We did venture into the sleepy little town of Vilcabamba for a walk about.
Trust me, I had no flashbacks of Las Vegas, our former hometown. The streets were pretty much deserted, and it was really odd to see perhaps more gringos, many of them in little cafes clutching those monster sized Pilseners, than true locals. We had planned to send the whole afternoon and evening there, but right after a yummy Mexican lunch we'd experienced all the excitement we could take so we beat a hasty retreat back to base camp.
Another day Cynthia and I undertook what was called one of the easier hiking choices. We were treated to outstanding views throughout the three hour adventure,
but "easy" it was not and we paid a heavy price the following two days for our rambunctiousness.
Our timing was impeccable as rain arrived shortly before our departure to Cuenca.
Not that many of us retirees exactly lead a stressful life here, but what a joy to discover such a magical spot to just get out of town and away from one's normal routine. Will we go back? You bet your sweet Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!