Luxury is kind of a big word. Our lifestyle isn’t necessarily luxurious, but living in a little town in Peru makes us realize just how luxurious our “normal” lives might seem. In this blog we would like to take a moment to acknowledge the differences between our “western” and “luxurious” lifestyle in contrast to the “small town” Peruvian way of life.
Let’s talk about the basic facilities you’ll find almost everywhere in Europe. Things like public bathrooms, free WiFi, paved streets, accessible sidewalks, easily reachable thrash cans, adequate sewer system for rain drainage, and so on. In Curahuasi, you’ll find one and a half of the things listed above. A public bathroom at the local market and a thrash can at the gas station (which really is the only one in town). The latter is kind of a big problem in Curahuasi (maybe South-America in general), their waste management is abysmal. A lot of it ends up on the side of the road or elsewhere in nature...
So it’s probably safe to say that European cities and countries are used to living with a more basic kind of luxury. Having more basic facilities at your disposal. If you drank a bottle of water or just finished a Snickers, there’s a thrash can on every corner of the street. And in case some of the thrash ends up on the streets (which certainly happens!), there are people who go around and clean the streets. When you want to know when the next bus arrives, chances are great you’ll have free WiFi you can use throughout the city. And if it rains, it flows neatly towards the gutter, which make the water disappear to who knows where... seriously, where does the water go?
Imagine you need a new blender to make your detox spinach and cucumber smoothies, but your current one just broke down. In a more urban setting, you can just go out your door, look up the nearest blender store on the free WiFi and go to that one. You’ll have your new and shiny blender the same day. Or, you might be feeling lazy because you haven’t had your energy boost from your detox smoothie. You just go online and have one delivered the next day. In Curahuasi, if your blender brakes down, that means a 2-3 hour trip in a hot and sweaty shared taxi to Cusco. You’ll be out a whole day for a stupid blender, because the idea of ordering one online and delivered to your door in Curahuasi is just laughable…
That about covers the comparison of basic facilities and “ease-of-living” between the two worlds… But the differences don’t end there. Think about our grocery stores for a second. Big, filled aisles with a wide variety of foods to choose from. In one grocery store you’ll find everything from bananas to cleaning products to vegan superfood cheeseburgers to even clothes is some. In Curahuasi it’s back to basics.
If you want fruits or vegetables, you’ll have to buy them fresh from the local farmers in the market in town. For all other stuff (toilet paper, coffee, chips, soda, etc.) there are a lot of little stores around town. But they don’t have a wide variety of products, if you want stuff like pesto, broth cubes,… you’ll have to go to Cusco.
We kind of like this more basic approach, buying your fruits, vegetables and other stuff locally instead of in a big chain supermarket. But it sometimes sets a kind of challenge to keep your meals varied and not eat the same dishes every week!
The moral of this story is. In the time we’ve lived in Curahuasi, we noticed the differences between our “luxurious” culture and the more “rural” culture of a small town in Peru. It made us realize that it’s very possible and even comfortable to live with less… Less accessible facilities, less variation in available foods, less luxury. We think this is a lesson that we are going to apply in our daily lives from now on. If you can live with less, you’ll have much more resources available for other things in life. If you’re able do get creative with basic foods, your wallet will thank you and you’ll still eat healthy. Maybe you don’t need the latest and fanciest appliances, you can probably achieve the same with more basic things. It’ll take a little more effort, but it will be more rewarding!