It would be a challenge for anyone to find a more perfect picture of paradise than Vilcabamba, Ecuador.
This little valley is surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Andes and is the perfect example of the “eternal spring” that the country is well known for. With warm days, dependable rain, and little change in weather year-round, it is a lush South American Eden.
Dennis D’Alessandro is one of the many North Americans who have come to Vilcabamba to enjoy the climate and opportunities presented. As a third generation organic farmer from Pennsylvania he brought his skills and knowledge to Ecuador.
“I can’t tell you how much I thank God that I’m here,” he says. “In Pennsylvania we had to eat preserves or supermarket food during the winter. Here I can grow so many things all year round.”
His little farm sits on a tributary of the Vilcabamba River which provides clear clean water. “I can walk out of the house and in two minutes be drinking water from the river,” says Dennis.
Dennis first landed in the town in 1977 and opened an orchid business. He returned to the United States in 1990—with his Ecuadorian wife and children—to be closer to his family. But in 2009, he and his wife moved back to Vilcabamba for good.
And in 2010 he opened a small restaurant, The Juice Factory, using the fresh ingredients from his own property to make juices and smoothies. He also serves salads, soups, and omelets. Today, The Juice Factory is one of the town’s most successful businesses.
Set right on the plaza it’s a popular hangout for expats and tourists. The outdoor seating makes it easy to meet up with friends…and the fresh fruit smoothies are a great pick-me-up on a warm Vilcabamba day.
But Dennis found that there was yet another market he could tap…
Vilcabamba and its surroundings attract a lot of health-conscious folks who are looking to eat better and live a cleaner life. Many of them are making their own natural food products and Dennis now has a health food consignment store in the back of the restaurant.
“People bring in things like mushrooms, kim chi, goat cheese, and natural sundries,” Dennis says.
One of the things Dennis loves best about living in this area is the people. Because he has so many folks passing in and out of his store each day he gets to mix pleasure and work by visiting with old friends and passers-through alike.
When he’s not at the store, he’s often working with his plants at home. Technically that’s “work,” but for Dennis it’s enjoyable as well.
With such an idyllic setting it’s no surprise that he has settled in Vilcabamba and has chosen to make a living here.
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