Being Conscientious in Cusco

Trip Start Mar 11, 2009
Trip End May 06, 2009

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Flag of Peru  ,
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I have an entire day to kill before I get on the bus to Bolivia so this morning I spent a good portion of it finishing my book (A Thousand Splendid Suns - yes, read it. Yes, I cried like a baby. In public.) Afterwards, I felt compelled to write about something that had been tugging at my insides for a few days now. Here you go:

On the dusty roads between the larger cities/towns, it bewilders me to see buildings crumbling to ruin, the paint that at one time could have been bold and fresh, now a mere, chipped, shadow of its former glory. Some so destroyed, you couldnīt even guess at what it used to say. I am not confused by the passage of time but by the hint that, some time long ago, these villages used to be proudly kept. What happened between then and now? Where are their keepers? I would have assumed that, in year 2009, I would see the new coats of paint slathered across renovated buildings. I would expect an interest in maintenance and pride in the creation of newness. Not this nonchalance it seems like there is about the decay and rot. (Iīve seen this in many countries obviously, not just Peru. Mexico...Laos....some parts of Thailand.)

I realize that there have been natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, droughts) all attributing to the destruction and ruin but it is only human indifference that maintains the chaos, that keeps these areas in poverty and filth. Why, does it seem, that they were once heralded and taken care of where now they are ignored and forgotten? What changed in the people?

I am embarassed to walk around this city with a clean face, looking at menus sporting entire meals for less than $10 USD, while, just over there on the corner lies a woman who looks older than my grandmothers but is probably closer to my motherīs age, holding out her hand and pointing to the baby in her lap. I buy bunches of bananas and hand them out like penitence as if they can erase the knowledge that, at the end of the day in a cleaner part of the world, I have a fridge full of food and the only reason I am sitting on the street corner is because the altitude makes me need to catch my breath.

Lima shakes me, disturbing me to the core. Not because I am unfamiliar with neon billboards and entire streets lined with high end stores and not because I am afraid but because the contrast between the capital city and the rest of the country is shockingly severe, almost sinister. Why build up only one tiny part of the country and leave the rest to rot in the dust?

Each time I travel (with the exception of North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand obviously) I am humbled. I am taken by the shoulders and shaken, giving thanks for being born in Canada and having all that I have. I am, too, ashamed of belonging to a culture who has so much and yet, is always hungry for more. Why isnīt the status quo to be happy having -enough-? Why must we always strive for moremoremore? I suppose "enough" is a matter of perspective. A $25, 000 engagement ring from Tiffanyīs is nothing to a millionaire whereas I canīt even imagine what that sort of money would do here. It could, quite possibly, build an entire community.

There is more than enough money in the world and yet I feel like there is, sometimes, more value placed on paying actors to star in movies than to put food in the hands of the hungry. Not to say there arenīt people doing their part - just that, in the end, we could all do more.

I wish people could see that we are all one and the same - we should be taking care of each other instead of wasting our energy on pointing out our differences and magnifying our faults. What are we so afraid of?

Be aware of the world around you, even if you never leave your front yard. We all need to be more careful with one another. In the end, being selfish gets you nowhere. And offers you nothing.

That being said (quite passionately, I suppose) I do want to state that I am also proud to be a part of a culture who is more conscientious than most. I am not, by all means, bashing Canada or "Western Culture". Just to clarify. ;-)

Much love from me.
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sockmonkey on

I just thought you might want to hear about the wisdom of Toronto when it comes to homeless people. So a study is being done here in TO and they plan to take 300 volunteers and pay them $100 in gift cards to pretend they are homeless so when the study is being done we will know for sure all homeless people are being spoken too, this study is going to cost the gov $100,000, $35,000 of that going to the volunteers and staff to run the study. Do they have ANY idea what $35,000 would do for the homeless in this city? And instead of the money going to them we are PAYING volunteers. Last time I volunteered I did it for free!

So the morel of those post is that the rich never care much for the poor no matter what country they are in, if the rich would share the wealth with the poor instead of other rich we would all be much better off in this world we call home.

Thanks so much for sharing your journey and your thoughts on the world.

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