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Peru Travel

The Inca way of life

November 24, 2016


Do you ever have one of those days where your already running super late and then you go and spill your Costa Cappacino all over your brand new New Look coat, and you think to yourself ‘Why me?’

Or perhaps you lose your freakin’ temper so badly because your laptop disconnects from the dodgy wifi just as you were about to book those on-sale flights, and now you have to go through the whole process of finding them again and putting your card details in and you think ‘Why does everything always happens to me?’

Ever had the drivers from John Lewis cancel the delivery of your new bed after you’ve waited in all day and they push the delivery back a whole two days, leaving you no choice but to sleep on the sofa for two nights and you think ‘This is so unfair!’

Well, do you ever take a step back from your life and realise just how dam spoilt we all are? How first world our silly problems are? How much we have and how very little we appreciate it?

Because we don’t.

Where has this sudden appreciation for life come from? I hear you ask. I have the Inca’s to thank for that. You see, it all started with a lake – yes, a lake. When I learnt that the worlds highest navigable lake was in Peru, one of the largest lakes in the world, I knew I had to go check it out. What I didn’t realise at the time is just how much I would learn – and appreciate – about the inca way of life.


The lake is shared by both Peru and Bolivia, but entering the lake from the Peru side (from the city of Puno) means you get to see the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. And nope, that isn’t some silly name for a fancy floating restaurant, the floating islands are exactly that, islands and homes that literally float on the lake. Made of bundled reeds, there are more than 40 of them in total, with the majority being on the Peruvian side and the rest in Bolivia. The people on these are islands are named The Uros (uru) and each island homes a family, and last month I got to hang out with them.


After meeting our guide, boarding our boat and spending about 40 minutes at sea, or rather ‘at lake’ (it’s easy to forget your on a lake when all you can see is blue water for miles and miles) we hopped off our boat and onto an island. An introduction to the island and how it’s made was lead by the president of the island, who by the way, was Female (just saying America, just saying). This is where we learnt that the people of these islands, as well as the people of the larger nearby island and the people of Puno, like to live by the following inca mantra:


In the inca language of Quechua this means: Don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t be lazy.

This is the simple daily affirmation that these people choose to live by, a way of life passed down from the incas. And when you look at that sentence – Don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t be lazy – don’t those simple rules seem like ones we should all follow? But we don’t. We’re all guilty of lying, even if it’s just little white lies, we survive on them (I’m running 10 minutes late/I can’t make it into work today/no your bum doesn’t look big in that) As for laziness, yup, I can certainly admit to that. We all can. We moan when we have to do chores, we text because we are too lazy to have a voice on voice conversation, and now we are nation with an app to have McDonalds delivered to our doorstep – the epitomy of laziness. And Stealing? Okay, so we’re not all thieves, but you get the point.


But the Uros are none of these things, they now class the inca way of life as their way of life. And after meeting them and spending some time with them, yes their lives may seem so much simpler than ours, but the Uros are so happy, so content, the island we visited felt felt like a completely stress free zone with no dramas. You remember what P-Diddy said “more money more problems” and maybe it’s true.

I watched on as the Presidents daughter played with toys that back home would belong in a museum, with the most modern toy being the kind you would find in your doctors waiting room. Apparently the islands do have now have solar panels installed so that they can all enjoy the benefits of TV and PlayStation but this leisurely time is rationed. Not like our children, who argue over whose turn it is on the the iPad, or demanding ‘sweeties, sweeties, sweeties.’ These children play with simple toys and eat mostly organic, healthy & vegetarian produce.


The Presidents daughter grabbed my hand and lead me to a hut. She wanted to show me and a few others the house her and her family of five share; it was literally a room no bigger than the spare room back home, with one mattress taking up most of the space, a mattress all five of them shared. No fancy John Lewis bed, no three piece sofa, no fireplace decked out with ornaments and picture frames filled with photos of holidays abroad. But it was their home, it was simple, it was all they needed and they loved it.

Don’t get my wrong, I am guilty of being a completely spoilt westerner – I love my soy caramel lattes, I can spend so much money on crap in Ikea that I don’t need and my job revolves around having a good wifi connection, so I curse and curse when I don’t have it. And I’m not saying we should ditch all our home comforts and plush luxuries. But maybe next time we are having a bad day, or what we think is a bad day, maybe we should take a moment to remind ourselves of exactly what we have and how much we have, and is this ‘bad day’ really actually that bad.


As well as maintaining Island life, the families are all artists and craft makers too, making beautiful things and selling them to tourists who visit. The Presidents daughter made me a friendship bracelet for 10S, which I love and haven’t taken off since, I also bought a necklace off her for 20S, that I fell in love with and have been wearing so much.

After hanging out with the family and making some purchases, they took us out on their boat, what is essentially their ‘car’ and a fancy one too. It is used to travel from island to island or to head to the mainland. On the boat the children sang for us and we tipped them. We also noticed that straight after performing the children took over the rowing of the boats from the adults (“don’t be lazy”).


The boat dropped us at an island where they had a cafe selling pastries and coffee, and where you could pay 1S to get your passport stamped with the official Lake Titicaca stamp. Of course I queued up with the other tourists for this, I also got a hot drink and a banana pastry which was delicious. As I handed over my passport to have it stamped my immigration form flew out across the kitchen; about three local islanders all chased it quicker than you can say ‘Lake Titicaca’ and carefully placed it back in my passport. I couldn’t help but smile at how kind, friendly and quick they were to help.

Boarding the boat with my cup full of coffee and my passport with an extra stamp in it, I also left the islands with a heart full of love and admiration for these people. The people who don’t steal, don’t lie and are never lazy. The people who live to day-to-day on a tiny island, seeing only their families and the tourists who come to gawp at their shockingly different way of life. I know for sure I couldn’t live like that, but of course that’s because I’m too spoilt – something I’m going to remind myself of next time the tube is delayed by four minutes and I think to myself ‘Why me? Why????’



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