It’s difficult to say, really, who ruined everything.
I mean, where the rot really set in.
Of course, there was that whole thing with the Spanish, and there has been that whole thing with the USA and its calculated plundering of the islands and continents sequentially, but I doubt that even these horrendous incursions, betrayals and greed-fests at the cost of the Simple Good People of the Quiet Earth were as diabolical as what you can witness right now, every day, in places like Vilcabamba.
In the very beginning, it was alcoholics and nature-lovers who settled in these little hamlets around the world. Looking for peace and quiet to set about their passions. Then it was property speculators, then online millionaires who’d made a killing with cacao beans and poisonous lies like Adyar Clarity, and were desperate not to have a single penny of their unworthy fortunes be wasted on American taxes, inflation and an unstable dollar.
These gross new rich ran like rats to developing nations where they could not only ‘roid up their fortunes on cheap living, but further propagate their lies about health, prospering from selling it in packets.
It’s a mystery to me, given that raw foodies, in general, are among the most wretched-looking specimens of humanity you can find outside of an actual war or drought zone. And they’re typically moody, elitist, prone to violent outburst and extremely, pathologically, ruthlessly greedy. I just love hearing Matt Monarch, for example, compared to a surfer.. it makes me almost wet my pants, given that, in real life here in Vilcabamba, where he lives in a luxury gated villa tended by maids and gardeners, (without any neighbours because he recently either evicted or betrayed them all) this battery-hen of a self-appointed guru on spirituality and health, looks like he could barely lift a whole carrot, let alone a surfboard!
I’d love for an actual surfer to turn up in this town, or a nice, decent ordinary man who has made his own way in the world and knows how to hammer a nail, flip a burger and get on with living life instead of just squeezing every last dram of a dollar out of it. The ones who aren’t on the make are hopeless megalomaniacs, in general, who are never seen to be chatting with the locals, or walking or riding in the hills.. so what the hell are they doing here, really?
These health-industry folk have more impact than you’d think. They’ve infested the planet from Ecuador to Ko Samui, trading in weight loss, NLP, berries, ibogane, plant magic, Tantra.. whatever they can flog for at least a %1000 profit, and gain a cult following with as well. They are succeeding, not so much because they are clever, but because they have huge lists for online marketing, and the feeble trust of thousands of lost souls. And because they are ruthless about combining their online forces, then shafting each other for the spoils.. that’s you Matt Monarch, and you, David Wolfe, and you… Kacper. Yes, you.
People like Matt Monarch, and the health ranger dude, while yelling and screaming fit to curdle their own livers about the evils of fluoride, or pharmaceuticals, or the food industry, made Fortunes, deliberately, out of selling alternatives they invented out of thin air to the people they had frightened.
In one case, Kacper Postawski, who lets it be known he made his millions (but not how it was from some kind of online book about tomatoes, and then skimming the fat off the notorious trade of a toxic potion called Adya Clarity, touted as the most important healing tonic in the world, and then found to be horrendously toxic and dangerous)…. boasts continually in this microscopic little town about how grotesquely rich he is. He lures the crusading American pilgrims into his lair with promises of financial gifts, spends a good deal of his time warning folks about the corruption and fraud of the ruling elite, the evils of hostile aliens harvesting human energy for their dastardly plots, and fishing for healing products he can promote to his list, then letting the big fat no care, no responsibility dollars tick over. Kacper is famous for being hit on the shin by a reversing taxi here in town this summer, and claiming to have died and been illuminated, selling his great wisdom at http://www.silentfurnace.com
Between deaths, marketing adventures and all this bullshit, he rents a mansion in town for $3,000 a month, when the going rate for luxury accommodation is $500 – $800 at most. He is busy ‘positioning himself’ as an enlightened guru who will guide you out of despair and suffering at the end of the world this December, for a price of about $400 online.
More than one person has commented here that if Kacper were able to find it in himself to rent a house at even half that flatulent and narcissistic price in Ecuador, he could use the rest of the money to actually change real people’s lives – the people who live next door to him, for example, who earn less than $180 a month working 10-hour days for the gringos as maids and builders and electricians. Or the artisan family here whose baby died a month ago because the hospital would not admit them for care because they appeared to be unable to foot the bill.
Whatever. These people are not the only ones exploiting the benefits of this undeveloped hamlet, stuffing it up forever, and destroying the community that has existed in it for generations, but is invisible to the inflamed gringos, mainly.
Baby boomers afeared of the dread loneliness and isolation of retired life in the West are here, drinking their money and spying openly on the pretty girls. Divorcees with bad botox and cash dollar are here, looking to install themselves as Queens of the Domain, helping all the poor Ecuadorians, and showing them the light of Feminism and organic broccoli and the delights and joy of an entrepreneurial life… completely, hopelessly, pathetically oblivious to the delicate threads of the culture they are unpicking with their inspirational leadership.
Ex-US Marines are here, with their rage and their cheques, aging hippies, with their half-baked ideas, gun freaks who hide away in the hills with their trembling fists and their shiny new weapons, advertising on facebook the sale of cheap crossbows, and how they are the real heroes of our times, who will shoot to kill if they face any kind of trouble on their land, in Ecuador. Hellllloooooo?
There are all kinds of losers, basically, who see it as a place to make BIG cash dollar on land, build private empires where they can be emperors in their synthetic drawstring pants, hide from a potential war while creating their own mini one, which they can launch from their luxury villas and private bunkers, all stocked up with the 38 items you must horde before the End of the World… and lifestylers who can’t afford (or don’t get invited) to the best parties on Maui.
The others hide away in the hills. You don’t see more than 80% of the rest of the gringo population of this valley, which is estimated to be about 1,500 people. They hide. And I don’t blame them.
Recent disturbances in the Middle Class security blanket, especially in the USA (and likely, actually, because of the USA) have caused what appears to me to be the most heinous act of colonisation since the Conquistadors, and a more ruthless, stupid, dominating, insidious force for destruction of peace and culture in the world I doubt you could convince me of.
Americans, once mocked for their myopic view of the planet, and failure to explore except for franchise opportunities, have recently been applying for passports at a rate ten times higher than any other time in their history. Americans are leaving. In droves. It’s a mass migration. No kidding.
The New Vilcabambanites, overwhelmingly American (in every way) can, much to their disdain, be pretty easily type-cast. Even their compatriots, Americans who sniffed out Vilcabamba as a potential new homeland (by surfing online, and not by doing any actual bothersome traveling, unfortunately, because that would surely have weeded more than half of them out), then snorted fiercely before stomping back to Cuenca, classify the American Vilcabimbos in two ways, as I was told at a party recently by a woman from Florida; “they are either disgusting hippies in those horrendous long skirts, with filthy hair, or useless acid-victims on government pensions looking to be top of the dung heap”.
That’s simplifying things, but it will do.
You can see, outside the Vilcabamba Juice Bar, any day of the week (except closing day, Monday, when the town falls into a depression and settles into facebook disputes and de-friending frenzies to bide the excruciating time) an excellent cross-section of the folks who broadcast that they are here in a brave crusade to create a New Reality on Earth in these sad and changing times, building visions of a New Age, striving for love and peace and purity, and risking all to build true community, despite the corporate greedheads and all those dreadful other people who have made such a mess of it.
When they’re not spouting off their enamel-corroding rhetoric, they’re usually involved in vicious little spats concerning popularity or money, or obsessively proving to themselves that even at 60ish, being fat and ugly and gross and loud, they can still pull a woman, any woman, if they can let it be known that they own real estate.
On regular occasions you might see an actual fight. Or a hissy fit. In such cases, even if the aggressor is an ex-Marine on a government pension attacking a hapless writer with a small orphaned dog in her arms, you can be confident that none of the courageous world-changers will do a thing about it, they will not leave their detoxifying superfood smoothies unattended for a moment.
Instead, they will say that communication drums installed nearby are messing with their ‘frequencies’ and making them agitated. In Vilcabamba, if you are a bitch, or abusive, or mean-spirited or fat, cowardly and alcoholic, you can blame it happily on these drums, or on aliens, or on the government. That is considered perfectly normal.
Or, they might be colouring in an A4 advertisement to place on the noticeboard, saying how they are manifesting their dream house.
Here in the remote Andean wilds of Ecuador, dream houses ain’t what they used to be. As the Middle Class colonisers sweep in with their Trust Funds in swaddling, terrified that their free rides should dwindle in any way should there be trouble in America, and other hordes on counterfeit pensions from the States and Canada, and raw food millionaires, with their grey skin and their evil empires swelling and farting and sucking the helpless into their vortexes of fear and privilege, dream houses have become quite specific.
According to one hand drawn ad, placed by a recent arrival feathering her nest here after so much fun in the Hawaii real estate scramble, a dream house in Ecuador (still among one of the world’s poorest nations) should have a full size bath with 24/7 hot water, fully equipped kitchen, cathedral ceilings, wooden floors, landscaped gardens, water features, domestic help (no more than $2.50ph, thanks) and sweeping views in all directions, with absolute privacy essential!
Meanwhile, to the hedonistic gringo world-changers, the impact of all of this on the actual people who built this town are largely invisible. Unless they can build an NGO on their backs.
Not long ago a local farmer killed himself in the valley. His death may or may not have been part of this story, but it is a fact that all over the world, even in Australia and the States, farmers are killing themselves because of the massive, terminal upheavals in land ownership and crop fashions.
In South American entire tribes are threatening to be the instigators of their own extinction through mass suicides, rather than let Big Oil and the World Bank destroy them less visibly as they chunder up their land and all the rites, wonders, meaning, belonging and legends that live within it.
Those of us in less united cultures feel these devastations alone, without counsel, and the death of every farmer by his own hand because of poverty, development or forced cultural atrophy should be seen as a crime against all of our rights to cultivate a life and a spiritual home on the Earth,our Mother, our birthplace, our home…. and the enemy is just as likely to be a dream house hunter as a bloody oil company! get with it!!!
In Bali, rice farmers have started suiciding at an alarming rate as the wine bars and the luxury villas go in, and sustainable lifestyles of the Earth carers go out.
So, this farmer in Vilcabamba died, and I was fascinated to note that his story, which I don’t think even included his name, was used by a foreign permaculturalist living here as evidence against the use of pesticides. He had, apparently died by drinking a half cup of chemicals, and this was, she wrote, concrete evidence of the dangers of non-organic farming.
Which is a bit like saying, when the Uwa tribe threaten to commit mass genocide by jumping from their own sacred waterfall before they are exterminated by oil development contaminating their land, that this is clear evidence of the dangers of having sacred waterfalls.
Which is a bit like saying, hey! those bad guys in the media and the government and the military, in engineering and science and medicine have messed the whole world up with their cunning, evil plots, there might be a war on… it’s not safe in the States.
So let’s all move to Vilcabamba and start a better community by eradicating or just ignoring the one that’s already in place, and putting me at the head, (because I’ve got the cash for the land) and lets allow everybody whose white, or cashed up, or useful for our purposes to just do their own thing, no matter who they bully or betray, ’cause they’ve all got their pensions and they are all worthy aspects of the divine, and you know, let’s make sure we have guns as well, and bunkers, in case any ‘bad guys’ come after us… the Ecuadorians are unpredictable, you know…