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Incan Ruins – How Looking at the Past Inspires Your Future

I remember the first time I learned what UNESCO World Heritage sites were. It was somewhere around stair one billion and one in Sri Lanka’s Sigiria, and someone asked why we were torturing ourselves in that way. The response was, “it’s a World Herritage site.” And that was it. No more discussion necessary. After that arduous climb, I looked up the list on UNESCO’s site, and I learned that I had been to five of their locations before.

Since then, I’ve made it a point to visit more. My favorites, by far, are the places that once stood tall and proud. The places that are considered marvels for their time. And today, while they may be reduced to organized piles of rocks, they contain some type of trigger there that launches my imagination, and allows me to feel as though I’m there, in their prime, walking side by side with the people who never let anything hold them back. It doesn’t matter if they had nothing but stone tools, and no means of transport other than their two feet, most ancient cultures looked to the skies, picked their favorite place, and built amazing things by dragging rocks to the location, channeling water in, and doing whatever they needed to do to make the place they wanted to live in, liveable.

The Incan’s are possibly the best example of this that I’ve ever seen. For starters, they used no mortar when building their structures, instead they used interlocking pieces of stone. And they were fit so perfectly that they’re still standing today. And again, this was with nothing but stone tools. Their secret to success was creating holes in the rocks, and then depending on if the Incans were located somewhere that stayed above or ventured below freezing, they’d fill those holes with wood and water, or just water, and wait for the wood to expand or for the water to freeze. As the wood expanded, or the water turned to ice, the expansions would put pressure on the rocks, causing them to break apart, right where the holes were created. In this way the Incans could make precise cuts, shaping the rocks however they pleased. They were then shaped, and placed, and that was enough to build something durable enough to inspire travelers to visit, 700 years later.


I can’t help but to think about my life in comparison. I’m in my final “vanless” days, and reality is starting to hit me. I have no skills or tools, hardly any build plans, and I’m going to build myself a home? I haven’t even started yet, but I’m almost convinced that I should just outsource the entire conversion. Maybe to some Incan descendants.

In all seriousness however, this trip keeps reminding me that I have so many opportunities in my life, and I’m not taking nearly enough advantage of them. Even amongst the little things. I have easily over a million sources at my disposal that could tell me everything about Peru, but I still came to this country with hardly any knowledge of who these people are, what they do, or how they live. And my excuse every time I procrastinated doing any research? “I’m too busy/tired/hungry/cranky/all of the above.” As a result I was painfully reminded that I really need to step up my game if I want to be remembered for 700 years. And my first move is to promise myself that in regards to the van plan, I will have AT LEAST a basic understanding of how every component works.  I know I will need outside help for some things, but when that time comes, I’ll do my research, follow along with the procedure, and truly have a complete knowledge of what I’m doing to my home.

What action are you taking this week to be more like the Incans? Leave that bit in the comments!

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22 thoughts on “Incan Ruins – How Looking at the Past Inspires Your Future

  1. I loved your story! I visited that place and it can certainly inspire you. I lived in Cusco for a few months and all the region has something special. Anyway, maybe we don’t need to be remembered for 700 years like the Incas, as long as we have a good life and help others on the way.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Miguel.

  2. It is so amazing to think how people built such sturdy and inspirational structures with so few tools. Like you, I always wonder how on earth did they do this?!? Good luck with your van! I’ve wanted a van like this so my husband and I can take longer road trips with our dogs.

  3. One of my favourite places in the world 🙂 Thanks for the added history Ash, I love reading about the history of a place within a story. Isn’t it interesting how travel inspires us and makes us reflect on our lives 🙂

    1. I think that’s part of the reason I enjoy traveling so much, it allows you to return to your “normal” life with fresh eyes. And thank you for your kind words.

  4. The Inca ruins are pretty amazing aren’t they? I am with you- I was amazed at the ingenious way they built their cities, which is why there are still significant ruins today.

  5. I agree that looking at the past can definitely inspire your future. I see the imagination and ingenuity that went into these structures. When I was in Peru, I found myself having these same feelings as you.

    1. It’s crazy how we can have similar experiences like that. It’s always nice to know that someone out there feels how you do.

  6. What a great perspective on the Inca ruins. Indeed, we have so much more available to us today. Everything we need to put our ideas in action is at our fingertips…so the question you ask is important….what are we doing with the resources we have!! Great inspirational and action taking post!!

  7. When I was a kid I was in love with pyramids and that ancient culture. I think these type of places are so interesting. The history and way of life is very important. I love that The Incan’s where able to build buildings and structures with no mortar by used interlocking pieces of stone. Incredible and they are still standing

    1. There’s always an air of mystery around things we just can’t understand, pyramids included. I love to visit Egypt one day to see them.

  8. I tend agree with you, when somebody says it is a “World Heritage Site” it sort of mutes any further discussion, its the only reason we need to know, LOL. I haven’t visited the Incan Ruins, but thank goodness for UNESCO that one day I may have the opportunity to do so. What a wonderful place you have visited.

  9. The Incan ruins look so intriguing and carry stories of a time long gone by. I am always fascinated by the ancient civilizations of the world and a lot can be learned from ruins around the world.

  10. I also love visiting world heritage sites for the insight they offer into the past – and I agree, my favorites are those sites which once stood tall and proud, which allow me to imagine what being part of that time period would have been like. I genuniely believe that even though we think we’re so advanced in todays day and age, there’s no way we would have the ability to construct half of the structures or cities which are world heritage sites today. Sad that that knowledge disappears with time along with their civilization.

  11. I would agree with what Meg has said. I personally love going to historical sites are there certain mysteries and stories behind everything, and these facts are what I would like to uncover or read. Also, one thing about these places, like the stonehenge, are still a mystery with how the previous people moved the boulders, or for the case of the pyramid, how were they able to create a perfect triangle manually, or in the case of the ruins here, where are the other incans who used to live in this ancient city.

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