As murder tops the list of crime and skulduggery in Vilcabamba this week, I am reminded of the timely lesson of the Snake Goddess: while sucking the delectable poisons of someone else’s myth, beware the compulsion to bite your own tongue!
She had been beckoning me for years, the snake goddess of the cubist pueblo of Vilcabamba in the dusty wilds of Ecuador. She summoned me in dreams, of course, because snake goddesses are prone to skulking about in invisible realms and don’t go in for facebook.
“Theeeese are important times,” she lisped in dreamspeak, with a slightly Austrian hiss. “The place, she is infested with the hippies, the weirdos and theeeese stewpid California shaman f$ckers. The Earth Mother, she is eeetchy. The Pacha Mamma, she is asking her revenges.”
After almost a decade between $2 cigarettes and cask wine with my favourite long-toothed lady of the magical cactus medicine (aka dark surfer of the magic slime, vomit-drummer and bitch, witch or wonderwoman, depending on who you ask) I packed my designer travel bags in Bali and sky-hopped for a week to the Other Side of the world to find that things were indeed going sideways in her wilderness.
I arrived amidst the unfolding story of the strange death of a beautiful American boy. People were bitching, there were vile rumours. Then, here in a parish marketed by land seculators and other parasites looking to turn a buck from an undeveloped (read ‘exploited’) community, as The Valley of Longevity, there were the consecutive deaths of a middle-aged foreign woman from cancer, a young local worker on a construction site, four youths in a car crash, an Ecuadorian farmer who suicided, the rape of at least four tourists in the heart of town, my own near-escape (and resultant sledging as a bitchy alcoholic slut who deserved it) and this week the unsolved bloody murder of a Canadian real estate agent.
Vilcabamba became famous as a peaceful place with a high number of Centurions. Those two ‘facts’, recently shaken into a persuasive cocktail by International Living and and others to lure life-style changers into the property market, have this decade caused the plundering of the lifestyle that presumably led to longevity, as well as the peace and quiet. So much for that myth!
But it’s not just the mass-arrival of the new residents that has caused problems, it’s their quality that is the real mystery.
My theory is that Vilcabamba is where all those kids from school: the fat, the greasy, the slimy ones who told the wrong jokes, had the wrong hair, smelt funny… the ones we cruelly (but instinctively) rejected as flotsam on the evolutionary surge – have ended up. And here, with the advantages of being white, having some US cash, being over 5 foot, and with very high opinions of themselves (and not enough Spanish to understand the insults the locals snicker at them), they gleefully discharge the pus from the chips imbedded in their shoulders with no limits at all.
Vilcabamba is where losers get their revenge.
And since , if there are any cool people in town at all, they have sensibly made themselves invisible, like rats in a jar, the losers go cannibal and feast on each other.
If you take even the fleetest glimpse backwards you will easily find that rape, murder, bashings, the mysterious disappearances of land holders while others slip into their places, and a nasty, seething bitterness has underwritten the Vilcabamba story since gringos first started using it as a base to peddle their illusions and prosper from Other People’s land – which is what Ecuador is.
Not that the new Americans think so. With an ear-infecting jingoism and kitsch-glory nationalism, the new ex-pat residents (mostly hailing from USA and Canada, with some shameful inclusions from Britain, Australia and New Zealand.. you know who you are…) loudly insist that their residency (bought for $15,000 or secured by the hasty delivery of a convenient visa-baby) entitles them to the same sense of ‘ownership and rights’ in Ecuador as any actual Ecuadorian. They do not for an instant feel ashamed at the gross idiocy of such a claim, but ferociously insist that indigenous wisdom is soooo cool, and paste it all over facebook.
If North Americans were criticised for being ignorant about the world for lack of passports last Century, they can be insulted to their faces in this one for achieving a will to travel, but dragging with them their inflated arrogance, colossal ignorance, fierce narcisism and superiority delusions.
The new North Americans in Vilcabamba, here because they say they want a better, fairer, less violent life than that they have created for themselves in the States, are too loud. Too opinionated. Too secure on their disability/ mental health/ parents’ pensions, with their false names, their kooky ideas about Illuminati terror-plots and other ways to make it rich… too drunk on the venoms that have risen up in them over their experience as losers elsewhere to even notice that they are the enemies they are running from.
At least two of them seriously think they are present-day interpretations of Jesus Christ. One declares that he is a fully-integrated (is that an upgrade from enlightened?) being, several claim to be Targeted Individuals (of special interest to USA Secret Intelligence) and everybody in the plaza agrees that the CIA has a mole and nano-spies in the village because the expats oozing around are so very important and special and dangerous to other, similar ruling elites… like the Pentagon, China and probably the Vatican as well.
Yes, the Snake Goddess and I agreed, the previously charming hamlet of Vilcabamba, once the perfect nowhere to practice shamanic arts like hammock-riding, gardening and river-listening was no longer nowhere. It was ranking Very High online with other Ecuadorian hotspots as the latest best place to start a new life. Peace in this shady oasis for wandering vagabonds, harmony lovers and refugees from the End of the American Dream in the 70’s, and other biographical wash-ups, for so long broken only by humming bird buzz and the sparkle of fireflies in the deep forest nights, was shattered. “The worssssst is still to come!” declared the Snake Goddess. “Thiiissss place, she is broken in the heart, broken in the spirit, and it is all from these stupid gringos! The Nature, she is very angry with thiiissssss… the Goddess, she is rising.”
Murder reported this week is tragic news, and after suffering violence and brutality there myself just 2 months ago, I know what it is to be afraid for your life. But murder is the logical outcome of the Vilcabamaba story. Double-crossing, bitch-festing, drug dealing, land pimping, gazumping, whoring, boozing, and exploiting the locals – of any colour –is de rigeur.
I heard reports from a recent meeting of the new feminist women’s community effort, Vilcamummas, which claims to represent the interest of the indigenous women of Vilcabamba, that there was a stand-off when the Ecuadorian women wanted to know where the money was going. “It was shocking,” I heard. “When the Ecuadorian women wanted to see the accounts, to know where the donations were going, the Americans got visibly angry, very defensive and practically shouted at them that they were being ungrateful!” This kind of pimping of a good cause is known as third line forcing and is an old trick in the cunning capitalist’s handbook. But is causes resentment, it displaces good people, it steals the stories from a culture, as well as their dignity, trust and peace of mind.
Bad joojoo has been pumping through the Vilcabamba ether at such an alarming pulse that talk of Black Magic abounds, even at the best tables. Violence really is escalating. Bitter feuds on the community fb networks (where somebody is called a bitch, f*cker, loser etc. almost every day in standard Vilca parley), rapes, gossip, ferocious cliques and factionalism are rampant. Tempers are visibly rising, boiling, bursting and re-infecting themselves. The police are insulted as uselessly corrupt, land deals are going sour, newly-built million dollar gated trophy homes are empty and for sale, thievery is rife between the gringos (of clothes, cash, ideas, lovers etc.)and the actual Ecuadorians? the people from Vilcabamba? They are largely inscrutable. Silently they watch, avoiding eye contact with outsiders mostly, as the prophecy fulfils itself… the invaders, they will succumb to their own wounds.
Six months ago two prominent spiritualists and long-term land-holders were warned by mystical sources that Vilcabamba was the site of a Black Magic War. The couple, already bound and bashed once in a previous home over an access dispute when they blocked ancestral trails used by locals, left. I saw them in Cuenca, they had a haunted look. She whispered to me, “There’s black magic everywhere! Get out while you can.”
At Christmas my only female friend, a beautiful heiress with longterm land and business interests in Ecuador, became concerned about the behaviour of her daughter . She was recommended a shamanic intervention by the plumber at her luxury estate. “It was incredible!” she confided to me. “Unbelievable! He was a beautiful man, the Maestro, very serious and kind. He made a cleansing of the house. He said it was FULL of black magic. Satanic rituals had been there. He said babies had been killed! My daughter, he made a diagnosis of her by passing over her whole body with an egg. When he cracked it open you could see there exactly – a kind of deformity in it, like a cloud. She was being possessed, he said! Incredible!”
Do you believe it? I asked her. “Absolutely!” said the heiress. “We are flying out on Friday. We are leaving immediately. The whole family.”
While Evilcabambans had been gazing starward, perfecting themselves for the dud End of the World event last December with mercury filling removals, coffee enemas and parasite cleanses in honour of the sexy aliens who would choose them to be among the new fifth-dimension elite (compensation for not making the grade in any sort of elite at all in the actual world?), they had failed to notice that dark forces were cruising the very ground they were shitting on.
Case in Point: the Vilcabamba Guru himself, one Kacper Postawski. The first time I met him he was lying on the modular lounge he was trying to make famous at his online ascension site Silent Furnace.com, lazily nursing a half-blown erection and boasting about his recent transcendental orgy fantasy, featuring Pliaedian star-troupers. If you were going to have a Miss Ex-pat Vilcabamba contest, Kacper would be the perfect candidate.
The runt of a twisted litter, Machiavellian puppet-master to his obese gimp, Danish Joshua (the blubber that fuels the farting furnace), this self-styled plunderer of the lucrative niche in anxious online outsiders is a ruthless, unscrupulous, hair-backed jackal with pupils that slip around like marbles on an autopsy slab. He is just one among many using the Vilcabamba myth to his advantage, now peddling ‘special water’ to his lists online, and claiming that he has special access to cosmic forces from here when what he really has is special access to cheap land, hi-speed internet and zero alpha males.
And what do the real Vilcabamba leaders, teachers, medicine workers and shaman make of all this?
They call it Black Magic. They know it will seek out its own. They work around it in secret.
The Snake Goddess, she sips her wine salaciously and sings praises to the divinely elegant, sweetly fragrant, bitch-mother, baby-crusher, giver-of-honey, twister of continents and decapitating seductress, Nature. She beams adoringly at the tiniest flowers in her pleasure gardens, cradles their pretty bonnets with her long fingers and kisses them like babies. She caresses the sparkling shafts of the needle-fine thorns of her Great Daddy, the mighty San Pedro cactus, and pricks herself ecstatically on their demystifying points. “The Valley, it is thick with bad medicine,” she laments. “There is a fog, a slime, a heavy mist over everything. The new people, they brought it with them, it gets so heavy, heavy, heavy. On some days it feels I can hardly breath.”
The Snake Goddess is bored of the Apocalypse. She is bored of the politics as well. She is bored of listening to prospective clients for her powerful magic and wise counsel rant on flatulantly with their hobgoblin ideas about conspiracies, aliens, Armageddon and the CIA. She has not had her teeth re-engineered for ascension. She admires how her upper incisors are growing fiendishly longer. She sucks at her front teeth in a very snakish way, inhaling kisses and fluttering her eyelashes dangerously as she says, “the human mouth is full of intoxicating nectars as well as nasty poisons. This medicine is delicious! But what is coming from the mouths of these Americans… it is a poison and they are sipping on it every day.”
In my opinion, this Universe has a great love for sorting things. She is tidy, like my mother. She likes socks in the sock place, knickers (ironed, preferably) in the place for knickers, placemats here, blue footed boobies there, red crabs here, penguins over here, kookaburras there, and lets sprinkle just a few snowdrops over… there. Lovely!
There are so many examples of this that it’s unbelievable that Darwin and co. missed it. A curious one is a little island in the Cocos Islands that has an entire geology made only of flip-flops. Left ones, I believe. These flip-flops have sailed the currents between northern Australia and Indonesia and PNG, arriving, millions of them, in exactly the same spot.
Now, if a flip-flop had an idea (who knows?), it might think it was its own idea to head for the Cocos. But what even scientists have to admit is that the Earth sorted flip flops into kinds and had a tidy spot set aside for them, a place where they could be neatly stored, like any good mother would naturally do.
So, if we follow this logic, we can imagine that Mother Nature, the Flower of Life, Geometrical forces using currents, jetstreams, lunar radiation and whatever is required, has separated a particular batch of ‘types’ out of the human mix, gathered them up and stored them in Vilcabamba. Since these ‘types’ are human, and believe they (alone in the cosmos haha!) have Free Will, they are convinced that they chose to come here. But what if…
The Snake Goddess is unshakeable in her theory. “The Nature, she is in control of everything,” she proclaims, stabbing her cigarette toward the village. “She is more wise and powerful, more fierce and ancient than any beetch who rivals her,” she says. “Theeeese people who have come here to Vilcabamba, I ssssee them. There are many, many, many with this dark cloud around them, with dark entities upon them. They are possessed by demons, perhapssss. Those demons have made something like an eclipsssse on them, so that the person who usually lives inside the body, he is not really conscious anymore – it is the demons who use these bodies, and they use them as vehicles to get to Vilcabamba,” she concludes with a decisive explosion of American Spirit.
At first we were despairing. You could see the damage being done everywhere; original architecture gobbled up in cement facades, huge luxury homes, ostentatious mansions looming over humble earthen dwellings, cars everywhere, prices soaring, lowered gazes over shop counters, a slow-simmering resentment issuing from the real people of the land.
But then we saw it differently. Vilcabamba is an old, old place. A place of strong medicine, powerful psychotropics that grow naturally there in the Wilco trees and the cactus. One legend has it that the place was once a dangerous medicine ground for elite shaman specialised in powerful magic using the crushed seed of the Wilco, ground into the flesh of a snail to create a suppository (my reporting of which will no doubt create yet another idiot American to launch a business doing just the same).
In any case, Vilcabamba, where even I once saw Kali herself, smashing compasses and tearing down the veil of human thinking as she danced erotically through the back country, is one of Mother Nature’s special places – a sweetspot and a thunderdome. Perhaps, the Snake Goddess and I mused, it’s really all just perfect?
These unhappy people, these violent thinkers and sad losers, these mutants and orphans who disprove Darwin and are a disgrace to both the Condor and the Eagle… perhaps they have been brought here deliberately indeed. Sorted out from their tribe. Separated like rotten apples from a barrel, to be dealt with in the wild cathedral of Cosmic Magic. Perhaps forces beyond our imaginations, forces that were truly judging and choosing from among the Evilcabambans: elite or delete – was not being broken as the land was. Perhaps the judgment and the sorting, the descents and the resurrections were actually really happening - inside their own heads in the form of a poison (as the Vedas describe), which had brewed there long enough, becoming rich and honey-like on bad thinking, unhappiness, evil and violence, jealousy, bitterness and indifference… perhaps these people are those who failed to read the moral compass, who never felt ashamed when they were being cruel and who had therefore cultivated a resonance, a nectar which used them as a breeding ground to inflict itself upon the host and its environment. A self-aware nectar, a mood, that had seized the personality and administered itself in continuous miniscule doses by a medium even more perfect and dastardly than the cigarette: through the roots of their own living teeth. A personalised, homeopathic, signature venom that vaccinates its own host with the perfect psychological state for its own destruction in order that the best of the species can thrive unmolested.
May Glenn Sanderse have been spared from suffering, may he rest in peace and may his story join with the stories of others who have met with bad fortune, violence – physical, verbal and emotional in Vilcabamba – to bring an end to the abuse of this village and all who live there.