. . . and make no mistake, as the people of Quillabamba will tell you repeatedly, this town certainly is not Cusco!
We left the tourist-frequented area of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, only to discover a remote and wonderful area of Peru, where, for three days, we did not see any other gringos. Not one! It was kind of exciting.
They really like ice cream. A lot. The town motto is, “Town of eternal summer.” They’re not kidding. Immediately I began to search the local market for some flip-flops. My feet could no longer tolerate being cooped up – they wanted some sunshine and fresh air. I did get hammered with mosquito bites on my feet and ankles, but eh, that’s the price for letting my feet breathe.
The women, no matter what age, rock some chic fashion. There are a few Andean grandmother’s in Sacred Valley mountain garb, but most of the ladies wear short shorts or bold patterned dresses with high heels. I saw one lady walking through a construction zone on the street who had to be pushing 50 wearing a bright red, one-shoulder dress and stilettos in the blistering mid-afternoon sun. “Rock it, sister!” I thought to myself.
Quillabamba sits in the high jungle and is a export center for jungle fruits, honey and coffee, so it doesn’t depend so much on tourism like other Peruvian towns. Quillabamb-ites are high-tech and saavy and don’t seem to even notice tourists, and I like that. Hordes of children in Catholic school uniforms take over the streets at night – often with a cell phone in one hand and an ice cream cone in the other.
Check out La Esquina, it’s a coffee shop on the corner of the square. The. coffee. is. AMAZING!
As far as things to do – there’s really not much on the tourist circuit, but the vibe of the place coupled with the lack of things to do was exactly the chill getaway I was looking for. The market food is wonderful, plentiful and the fruit is insanely inexpensive and deliciously fresh. I sat at a stall and drank liter after liter of emolliente – a refreshing tea-like drink.
I’m sure if I tried real hard, that I would find that Quillabamba is the gateway to some sort of fabulous, out-of-the-way trek, but I specifically wasn’t looking. I do know that Quillabamba is the dry season launch point to Pongo de Mainique, but we were visiting just a touch too early for that excursion. We did find one little get-away that was amazing . . .