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Vilcabamba (located in the Valley of the same name) in southern Ecuador is well known for the alternative, healthy and natural lifestyle that is sought after by many of the people who live there. 

Likewise, the offer of natural, organic and healthy products is wide compared to the size of the population of the head of the Valley of Longevity in the province of Loja.

In this first installment we present two of the health and wellness options that are offered in the central area of Vilcabamba: Solomaco and Coconut Coffee Shop.

SOLOMACO, PRODUCTS WITH MAGIC

Laura Preciado, better known as Crystal, comes from a town called Chía, which is north of Bogotá. There the cold can be cruel and it is almost always cloudy. So, he came to Vilcabamba on vacation, along with his little daughter, Luciana. His idea was to stay for two months, but he fell in love with the climate, the town, the mountains, the rivers, and that time lasted longer and longer. That was three years ago.  

Crystal has been in cosmetics for seven years. Back in Bogotá, she worked full time in a beauty salon and here in Vilcabamba she also offers her aesthetic services, but she has also been working for more than a year, serving the public, at the Solomaco store, located on Bolívar and Agua de Hierro.

The store was created six years ago by Emilie Moragues, who comes from the French part of Switzerland, and started selling natural products and everything related to tobacco. But now it has expanded much more, and in Solomaco you can find a huge variety of products related to food, personal care, geo cosmetics, natural medicine, handicrafts, essential oils, most made in Vilcabamba, and others brought from outside, for example, Guayaquil, Cuenca or Ibarra.

But, in addition, Solomaco stands out because it is a store that is highly sought after by healers, herbalists, or people who seek to carry out their own energy cleansing ceremonies and rituals. They have, for example: the tobacco for ceremony, the snuff (powder made with tobacco that is used to purify the pineal gland) and applicators, the mambe (or ypadú), which is a powder obtained from roasting, grinding and sifting the Amazonian coca leaves and other plants. "It's got loads of vitamins, it's energizing and it's also used for rituals," says Crystal.  

And other products that have a particular magic. For example: essential oils harmonized with Tibetan bowls, or kits to carry out your energy purification rituals at home, or cleansing of sexual energies.

Also, you can find books by authors residing in Vilcabamba, or pieces of art by local artists, as well as handmade jewelry. In addition, chamico, blends or mixtures of tobacco with other herbs for smoking and paraphernalia for those who smoke: bongs, pipes, vaporizers.

In addition, there are now large jars of spices that are sold in bulk (culantro, parsley, chives), a variety of teas and coconut oils. In natural medicine you find: aloe vera, moringa, propolis, probiotics, colloidal minerals (gold, silver, copper, magnesium and zinc) in drops to take. Soon, they will incorporate dehydrated fruits, also in bulk.

COCONUT, SPECIALISTS IN ORGANIC AND VEGAN

Sonia Angamarca, originally from Vilcabamba, created the Coconut store six years ago, located in front of the central market. At first, he sold coconuts and ice cream. But over time, he saw that the foreign community was looking for organic 100% products, so he started looking for them. It began by bringing goat and sheep cheeses, and continued with an infinity of natural products that cannot be found in other stores. Thus, it specialized in the organic and vegan market.

The store grew so much in recent years that coconuts were no longer a priority, but the name stuck. Let's take a look at some of the products you can find at Coconut.

For personal care, you find shampoos, lipsticks, toothpaste without fluoride, mouthwashes, toothbrushes, all organic; as well as intimate soaps, glycerin soaps, beer soaps, ginger soaps, activated carbon soaps. In addition, repellents, deodorants, alum stone, rose water, all produced in Vilcabamba.

Sonia also has the Green Harmony line of essential oils and diffusers, which are sent to her from Guayaquil.

In natural medicine, it has MMS (acronym for "miracle mineral solution" or "miracle mineral supplement"), as well as colloidal minerals (gold, iron, silver) to take in drops. Also, moringa, spirulina, dragon blood, activated charcoal pills, collagen, vitamin E and C, Omega, black garlic pills, magnesium capsules, zinc, probiotics.  

Besides, it has all the salts: in grain, black, from the Himalayas, sea. And also products for cooking: paprika, curry, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, nutmeg, cumin, bay leaf, seeds. Also, algae, such as nori and agar agar, which are imported products.

It also has nutritional yeast, different types of honey: maple, panela, avocado, honey with pollen, mishki. And different types of cocoa, as well as nuts: dates, pecans, papaya, roasted and unroasted cashews, Brazil nuts, sliced almonds, blueberries, mango, uvilla, pineapple, tomato, all dehydrated.

You can find in Coconut: coconut milk, aloe vera powder, rice flour, suhi rice, Italian rice, quinoa, tamarind, panela, coconut sugar, organic chocolates. All kinds of flours, but only wholemeal. There are organic noodles. “I only bring gluten-free noodles: heart of palm, chia. And only sheep, goat, and vegan cheeses: lupine, chickpea. Not for cows, because you can find them in any store,” says Sonia, who owns the only store of this type, at least on this side of town, facing the main road.

“I learned about this organic theme here with them, with foreigners, little by little. Mine moves only with foreigners, nothing national. My way of eating also changed. I totally gave up white sugar”, comments Sonia, and she rushes to prepare a totally nutritious and natural breakfast, because she also offers that service.

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