The Story of MonteSueños, (Mountain Dreams)
“It was destiny’s script.” – Meredith Miller
Many people have made, and continue to make, Montesueños possible. But without artist Meredith Miller and her late husband, NASA astronaut/physicist/author Brian O’Leary, it would not exist.
It was while living on the Yuba River, in idyllic northern California, near Lake Tahoe, that Vilcabamba began to work its magic. “We were in an empty space, Brian and I,” Meredith recalls. “We were one day away from signing on the dotted line to throw our entire nest-egg into purchasing a home in Nevada City, CA, a lovely little town, really. But somewhere in the night, Brian sat bolt upright from a dead sleep and said an emphatic ‘No!’ At the time, we didn’t know why, but it was good that he did. The housing bubble broke soon after and we would have lost everything.” Though a physicist by training, Brian was not averse to the science of prescience.
“Brian was doing work on ‘free energy’ and that was, and is, a dangerous concept to some. People in that movement began to go missing. We thought that this might be a good time to leave the US.” And so they did what many were doing at that time. They headed for Costa Rica. Strangely, when they got there nothing seemed to work out for them.
“Some good friends had gone to Ecuador and found Vilcabamba. They bought a small hotel there and set up shop. They invited us down, and so rather than head north, we turned south.”
Known as the Valley of Longevity, Vilcabamba had everything the couple was looking for – water from the foothills of the Andes, clean air, great food, an alternative lifestyle community. "It even had the intangibles,” Meredith muses. “Energy vortexes, UFO sightings, synchronicities… The intersection of power and purpose, a landing pad for personal dreams and connections.”
Six days after arriving, they’d bought the property that would become Montesueños. “A few walls, a crumbling roof. That was it. No gardens. We used the ruins as a starting point, a way of honoring the spirit of the place. It was a total ‘seat-of-the-pants, as-we-go, as-we-can’ evolution. Twenty neighbors were hired, and one room at a time, it grew.”
The first two years, Meredith and Brian lived in a cabin built on a landfill. Eventually, it split in half and started sliding down the hill. “We built a retaining wall, that stands today as the foundation of the property’s extensive trail system, leading to the yoga/meditation center at the top of Montesueños. Extensions of the Inca Trail wind through Vilcabamba. It’s possible to follow ancient Inca history all the way to Machu Picchu, Peru, from where you stand,” notes Meredith, proudly.
Meredith and Brian had a great aesthetic eye for design, but almost non-existent practical skills. Monetesueños’ otherworldly beautiful gardens were bare dirt when they bought it. Enter the Macas clan, an old and well-respected multi-generational family in Vilcabamba. Master gardener/property manage, Ulices Macas, came with the place. He was twenty-seven at the time and remains at the heart of Montesueños still. With Meredith ‘framing’ the views, Ulices made Montesueños’ incredible landscaping real. Ulices particular expertise is in plants and plant medicine. Learning from his mother, his grandparents, an aunt – Ulices became a star-guided “seer.” With the aid of his seven siblings, Montesueños continues to grow. Two of those siblings remain an integral part of its development. Brother, Dumar, a brilliant catch-all builder, and handyman keeps it all going. Sister, Mabela, runs the kitchen providing breakfasts for the guests, and special catering for events, concerts, and seminars. With Meredith as Montesueños’ matriarch and founder, a second generation of Macas children, Meredith’s spiritual “God-family,” is now entering this unique extended family business.
Sadly, co-founder Brian O’Leary transitioned on July 29th, 2011. His spirit lives on in every corner and phase of Montesueños history.