Ecuador 8

On Tuesday, the 11th of October, we left Loja for Vilcabamba, Ecuador.  This will be our last night in Ecuador.

Living Long in Vilcabamba...  Vilcabamba has been studied and restudied, ever since the 1940 census revealed some astonishing facts about the long life of the valley's inhabitants. Eighteen percent of the population was over 65 years of age, as compared to 4% elsewhere in Ecuador and 9% in the U.S. Eleven percent was over 70, and 9 persons had lived to be anywhere from 100 to 130. In 1969, Dr. Miguel Salvador, president of Ecuador's Society of Cardiologists, on a government mission with 8 other doctors, thoroughly examined 628 longevos or extremely old people in Vilcabamba. The medical group found men of 90 still ploughing the fields side by side with younger men, women of 100 and more still gathering strands of sheep's wool or working in the local bakery, and other aged men treading the muddy ooze to make adobe, the material from which Vilcabambans build their houses. More astonishing, the Salvador mission found a total absence of serious ailments, notably heart disease. These findings have been more recently confirmed by Dr. David Davies of University College, London, and Dr. Alexander Leaf of Harvard University, both gerontologists of note. Vilcabamba has now become popularly known as the "island of immunity" or "island of health and longevity."

Now I am wondering if my retirement at 57 was premature?

Dropping into the valley where Vilcabamba is located.
We had to find a shoe repairman to have the tank bag strap shorten.

When we asked for directions, we felt like total idiots.

We were standing right in front of the shoe repair shop.

Ecuadorian shoe repairman, using a very basic machine built in China.
Philips Petroleum Distributor, in Vilcabamba, Ecuador.

We took a little detour up a dirt road and found this interesting enterprise.

A self guided burro, hauling sugar cane back to the factory.

Here, the sugar cane was unloaded.

About 8 workers invited us down from the dirt road to see what they were doing.

Here, it is crushed, with the fluids running down a pipe.
And into this vat.

I was asked to sample the fluid, with floating insects and weird foam.

It was obvious that if we did not try the brew, they would have been insulted.

This turned out to be my own version of "Fear Factor".

Easy to sit at home and say, "It doesn't look that bad".

It really did not taste bad.....

it was just the floating gunk that made it tough.....

They take the fluid out of the vat where I was drinking the fluid, then they heat it in these long tanks
After it has been boiling for 30 to 45 minutes, they shovel the fluid into this smaller tank, where it is filtered then cooled.
To heat the sugar fluid, they used the remains of the squeezed sugar cane stocks.
Our budget is getting a little tight, so I attempted to find Sandy some local employment.

This is her first lesson on guiding Burros.

She is now ready for a job.
Then they lead the Burros back to the field to start the process over again....

Everything is used in the process. 

The ashes from the burnt sugar cane is used to fertilize the sugar cane fields.

Should have stayed here at "Madre Tierra" for 2 or 3 days.

It was owned by a retired aerospace executive.

Easy to relax here.

No wonder people live so long, here in the area of Vilcabamba!

View of Vilcabamba, from our room.
The neon cross and message did not seem quite right on this old church located in Vilcabamba.
Breakfast and dinner was included in the cost of $18.00 per day, per person!

And the food was fantastic!

Another typical village in the lower Andes......
And another....
Then finally to the border of Peru.

That wraps up our travels through Ecuador, which was fantastic.  But now I realize we have a problem.  Ecuador is 109,000 square miles (about the size of the state of Colorado).  And it is less than 2% of South America, which is 6,880,636 square miles.  At this rate it will take 6 years to complete the trip.  We rode 2,167 miles in Ecuador for a daily average of only 80.25 miles per day.  We said earlier that we were going to take it slow......

Additional note:  I waited a few days to post these pictures, in order to let my blood pressure drop, after getting ripped off by the last person I met in Ecuador.  A money changer.... Which sold me $200.00 of counterfeit money.  Oh well!  I think it is time to get rid of the counterfeit bills in my wallet, so that I can "let go" of the negative experience!

To continue on to Peru, hit the "Next" button".........

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