Amazing Kids! Magazine

Life in the Moment

By Gavin Bates


Imagine a world without a Starbucks on every street corner. In Calca, Peru, the streets are still made of cobblestone, and most of the buildings are unfinished. The foundations of these houses are often built from Incan ruins. The citizens of Calca farm potatoes for survival, using minimal profits to provide for their families. A Venti Frappuccino is not a bare necessity for the people of the Sacred Valley. This valley is made up of small communities, and the technology is substantially different when compared to that of the United States. In contrast to life in the U.S., people from Calca don’t need technology to survive and be happy. They live in the moment instead of living through their phones. This way of life creates a greater sense of community because people build relationships through interacting with one another on a more personal level.

Calca is surrounded by mountains covered in switchbacks, potato fields, and clear rivers. In one neighborhood in the U.S., there are enough cars to match the number in the entire Calca Region. When walking down the street, there is no noise aside from footsteps and the voices of locals. The buildings are rundown and vacant, but the locals don’t mind because they are still able to provide shelter. When walking through Calca, the people have smiles on their faces, and you feel free from the pressure to fit in. Community members will lend a helping hand when someone is in trouble, and as a tourist, you feel accepted immediately. Happiness brings people together in Calca, and they focus on the community as a whole instead of worrying about how they look or what they have.

In the U.S. the cities are chaotic, the smell of trash pollutes the air, and the cars are abundant and expensive. The buildings look like cardboard boxes, all of them gray and brown, every house identical and made of concrete and plastic. Americans spend too much money on things they do not need, such as Xboxes and iPhones. But wealth should not be measured in money; instead, it should be measured in memories. We are distracted from human interaction by focusing on computer games and social media. We want to hoard our belongings because they have memories attached to them, but we don’t spend time with people. Since we do not socialize, we lose our sense of community. People become broken and feel like they don’t belong.

There is a sense of happiness in Peru that is not be achieved in the United States. People in Peru feel connected to everything around them because they have created a home for themselves with their hands. Also, even though Calca is spread out over a large area, everyone knows each other.

Their friendship is real while our friendship exists on Facebook. We find happiness in money. Residents of the Sacred Valley find happiness in potato fields and chicha (corn beer) breweries. They focus on spending time with family instead of buying stuff they don’t need. Money is not necessary to have fun—you just need a close group of friends.

After coming back to the U.S. from Peru, I felt enlightened. I realized how easy Americans’ lives are compared to hard-working Peruvians, but I also realized how uneasy and unhappy we are. For Americans happiness is Christmas, and a Calcian’s happiness is simply a warm meal shared with others. I hope to live simply and find peace of mind in the warmth of families, like Peruvians.