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Where to eat
Whatever does not fit anywhere else will find its home here.
Until we find a better place, we will put in this section the bits of information
that we want to share that do not belong to any other category. Many times we
found that things are just not available where we expect them to be.
For example, say that you want to buy honey. If we told you that the best place to
buy honey is the hardware store on the square, would you believe it? Would you have
guessed? Also, knowing that honey is "miel de abejas" in Spanish would be great.
Finally, knowing why the honey at the hardware store is better than the others is
a useful piece of info.
So, here we go. This section is quite small at the moment but we are working on
Click Next below
There is variety of fruit available for sale. The most obvious is bananas which
cost between 5c to 10c each. Papaya, mango and avocado are just some of the other
local fruit available. Imported fruit or fruit grown out of the region like grapes,
apples and pears are obviously going to be more expensive. As with all fruit, wash
it before you eat it.
The flavour of a honey depends on where the bees buzz. As simple as that. You cannot
keep bees on a leash. So, in a place like Vilcabamba or Malacatos, because of the
many surrounding sugar cane fields, the bees will tend to "get high on cane" and
this will give the honey a flavour. Is that good or bad? It is a matter to discuss
among honey experts. To me, and without doing any research, just like it is better
for us to have a varied diet, it is better for the bees to feed on a variety of
flowers such as would be the case in a natural environment. Feeding exclusively
on sugar cane cannot be the best. Of course, if the fields are sprayed with chemicals
(I am not saying that they are because I don't know) that would affect the honey
At Karmita's hardware store on the square, she sells honey that does not come from
Vilcabamba but from mountains far from the village. She says that there is no sugar
cane there. Also, the honey is totally raw, unprocessed. You may still find the
odd bee body part in it. Some times she also has the comb that you can buy.
In Sacapo (San Pedro de Vilcabamba), there is a cooperative called "Abejita Longeva" that sells natural raw honey from the mountain (away from the cane fields). If you are interested, just take a taxi to the Saca
Is junk food a necessity you may ask? Most of the tiendas (stores) stock a large
selection of junk food such as chips, crackers, ice creams, sweets etc. There are
no MacDonald's, KFC or any other fast food restaurant in Vilcabamba, which is a
The main item you will want to buy here is bottled drinking water. Locals drink
the tap water. However for the tourist who is only visiting for a short time I recommend
you to buy bottled drinking water. Remember to use it for your teeth too (and keep
your mouth shut in the shower). Remember that all non-cooked food i.e. salads, fruits
etc have probably been washed in the local tap water. You cannot avoid the local
bugs in the water but you can limit your exposure.
If you are planning on staying in Vilcabamba for a while or living here then at
some point in time I suggest you drink the tap water (boil it first). My personal
philosophy is that you are going to get sick from the local bugs in the water sooner
or later so you might as well plan when and be prepared.
The best water to buy is Vilcagua. It comes in the following sizes 500cc. ($0.30),
2 litre ($0.80), 1 gallon ($1.25), 5 gallons ($2.00).
Another brand of good water here is Vilcavida. Vilcavida is much cheaper than Vilcagua:
5 gallon being only $1.00. You can buy Vilcavida from Carmita's hardware shop on
the square (next to the taxis' office).
Let's talk dogs, roosters, donkeys etc. I bring this up because it can be a shock
to people when they first visit. There are a lot of dogs roaming the streets
here in Vilcabamba. Generally they are well behaved despite the fact that most of
them are homeless. On occasion, you do get some nasty ones.
Personally, I carry something with me: a rock, stick, umbrella, even a bag will
do. I have seen a person who has been attacked by two dogs as he walked home. So
again be on your guard. If a dog comes near you and you don't like the look of it
make sure it knows who is boss and do not run.
Rooster fights are big business for the locals here so there are roosters tied up
lining the streets. It may not be right but its how things are here. We westerns
don't always do things right either when it comes to our animals so don't be too
quick to judge.
"Rooster street" - Vilcabamba
Donkeys work bloody hard here (carrying heavy loads of sugar cane for example) and
some are in a bad state.
So in closing this chapter, animals appear to be treated as a possession or even
a commodity here. They are not treated as a "member of the family" as is generally
the case in western country.
In my opinion it is better to go to Cuenca. They have more choice, the prices are
lower and also they have a car fair which is a place out of town where people just
park their cars and wait. There you can get private deals. This is how I purchased
my Toyota Landcruiser 1977 from 2 Jehovah's Witnesses, and as you may know, the
JWs are very straight and honest. To find the car fair ("la feria de los carros")
it is best to ask a taxi driver as the location is too difficult to explain.
Fantastic ceramics are available directly from the factory on the campus of the
"Universidad Tecnica Particular de Loja".
Click on the Shops tab in our Loja page.
Some people are fortunate to not get bitten by mosquitoes or sand flies. But most
of us do. Mosquitoes in Vilcabamba are not recorded as carrying malaria. However,
you will need a decent repellent as they do bite here.
It pays to pack a loo roll in your day bag. Some restaurants do not carry paper.
Some places like the bus terminal (if you are brave enough or desperate enough to
go to the loo there) charges you for loo paper. Also, it can come in very handy
to clean up messes, dry hands etc.
Vilcabamba revolves around small change. So bring lots of $1 and $5 bills, as well
as coins with you. Most shops only take the small stuff; yet they never have
If you are making a lager purchase, say for a meal, then you could use a $20 if
the total is close to $20. But it can be a challenge to use a $20 to pay for a $3
lunch for example.
There are no banks in Vilcabamba. There is the Cacpe Loja, which is not a bank as
such. They are sometimes able to change a $20 or $10 note.
There is only one ATM machine. The machine is located outside the front of the Information
Centre. There have been reports that this machine does not give out the correct
money on occasions. The irony of it when it does work it gives out $20 notes.
There are snakes around Vilcabamba and some are poisonous. There are also scorpions
as well as poisonous spiders. So be aware when in the bush for example. If you get
bitten try and find what bit you (without getting bitten again) and if in doubt
go to the hospital!
Even some of the caterpillars bite and can cause a nasty painful itchy reaction.
So respect the bugs and wild animals that live here, keep your distance, don't go
poking at them etc.