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Make a living in Vilcabamba Ecuador

Pierre Wauters
Vilcabamba Ecuador September 09

To many people who are considering walking away from their current lives, this is an important question.

Vilcabamba is a small village (so is Cotocachi for people who are considering a similar size but different place to settle) and I need a job, right? There are no banks, no offices, no "cubicle-land", no universities, no newspapers, no hospitals, in other words ... no jobs !

This is true and there is no doubt in my mind that if one comes here with a 10 page CV and wishes to "apply for a job", it won't take long for that person to exhaust the list of places to send his/her resume to, that is, if there was a post service to use to send the resume in the first place.

Some people here don't need a job and spend a lot of time "discussing important matters of life"(1) with fellow Vilcabambaeans(2) or tourists.

For those of us who do need a "job", the best and maybe only way to make a living in Vilcabamba is to re-create our own self, to find who we really are, the skills that we have and the skills that we never thought we had. This is a good thing because, as we create our own space to flourish, we are likely to need help and this will give "jobs" to other people, most likely locals.

I am one of these who still need income to live, maybe because I have been unwise too many times and never managed to accumulate enough wealth to retire, maybe because I actually enjoy working and being busy, maybe because I haven't read "Rich dad, poor dad" enough times or maybe because someone's got to do it, if only for the simple reason that beer cannot just be consumed, it has to be manufactured too and this is work.

So, my simple advice to people who freak out at the idea of not having a "job" is the following: relax. Easy! You are here and this is already 90% of the work. Think of all your friends/relatives/acquaintances/enemies who are not here ! Go for long walks along the many rivers, ride a horse for a day, blend with the locals, speak Spanish, meditate, go on a San Pedro journey, whatever... Take the time to find who you truly are and, once you manage to leave this state of fear and dependency that has been inhabiting yourself for many years, I am pretty sure that it won't take you long to come up with something that you can do here (and does not require a million dollar of capital investment).

Watch the woman on the mountain every day for at least 10 minutes, see how little she moves, how little she does, how peaceful she is:

By the way, have you ever noticed that the Mandango mountain is a man and a woman at the same time? To make it more obvious I have made 2 copies of the photo above, rotated them 90 deg in opposite directions and put them side by side.

The result is shown below:

Isn't this amazing? Doesn't  this not look like a bearded man facing a woman?

Then look at what many other people do here to support themselves. Go and talk to everybody (many shopkeepers do speak a bit of English), it is really easy here.

The great thing about places like Vilcabamba is that, one CAN be in charge of  his/her own destiny because there are not many major obstacles such as stringent regulations, red tape etc...

For a start, it is easy to obtain residency in Ecuador. In New Zealand, where I was living before, it is close to impossible unless one has either a million dollar in cash to invest or is less than 30 with a university degree and professional experience.

Secondly, it is possible to live on little. I personally do not live on little at this very moment because I can still afford a certain lifestyle that I am used to and changing habits is always the hardest thing to do. For example, I love quality chocolate (70% cacao or more), espresso coffee, red wine, swiss cheese, meat particularly the "filet mignon", raw almonds, macadamia nuts and others, berries and many other food items, all quite expensive here. If I was to live here on little money, I would have to scrap all that, change my diet and adopt a diet closer to the locals' diet. I would make sure that I still avoid the bad stuff such as the white bread and the white rice. The good news is that it is possible to source many healthy items for cheap (beans, camote, platano, avocados, papayas for example) or like Mike Adams, grow mani and make mani butter pudding. Some days I think that it would actually be a good experience to have a radical change of diet. Not only would I save a lot of money but I would get a great detox.

Thirdly, there is transport. I enjoy the bus here. For 2 dollars, one gets to Loja and back, for 3 dollars, a shared taxi will do the same. One can get around the whole of Ecuador safely and cheaply using the bus. It is not fast, the roads can be terrible but the entertainment on board is guaranteed, just watching the colorful people come and go and the varied landscape.

Well, I am sure that there is more to say but I will leave it at that for now. These are a few thoughts to cheer you up and show possibilities. I hope it helps.

Hasta la proxima vez!

(1) drinking :-)
(2) Vilcabamba residents