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 didn’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!