10 reasons why Inca culture will make you a better person:
1.Practise the gift of sharing.
Ayni, the most important Inca value is a simple, yet powerful concept of reciprocity. One needs to give in order to receive. It’s not just about money or food. It is about an exchange of energy between people, nature and universe. It’s about caring for others, making an effort, taking time and staying committed. As no one lives in isolation, what we give to others, that’s what we receive. I strongly believe it works, not just in the Inca culture.
2. Celebrate knowledge, hard work, harmony and love.
Along with Ayni there are four other principles that define Inca way of life: to love (munay), to learn (yachay), to work hard (llan’kay ) and to live in harmony (kawsay). Those values make people beautiful. In and out. What else could we possibly ask for?
3. Treat sex as a way of transferring spiritual values.
In the Inca culture sexuality was rarely a taboo subject. The sexual act was seen not only as creating a new life, but also as passing spiritual values, intelligence and love between the lovers. In the age of one-night-stands, meaningless sex, swapping, left or right, applications that concept sounds very extravagant. There is a huge display in Lima on erotic art, if you are interested, Larco Museum is a place to go!
4. Show respect for Pacha Mama (Mother Earth).
Incas lived in a total harmony and respect towards nature. They were connected to the earth, mountains, the cosmos. Even when they were forced by Spanish to worship the God, they still secretly followed their own rituals and kept Pacha Mama in their hearts. Until today they live in a way to avoid making her angry. They offer her food, prayers and unconditional love. I am not surprised by that, when you wander around Peru, you come across the most magical landscapes and the most breathtaking scenery. My favourite, beside Machu Picchu, was the Rainbow Mountain, the crazy explosion of colours situated at 16,000ft.
5. Have pride in your own culture.
Quechua people, as the Peruvians used to call themselves, are extremely proud in their rich history, culture, tradition and building techniques. Not only tour guides speak with the pride, but also locals. While traveling around Cusco region, I came across many extraordinary examples of that pride. The most vivid one was the gentleman, who wrote the book Journey to Machu Picchu. Spiritual wisdom from the Andes. I was lucky to hear the stories first hand, get an autograph and take the book back home with me.
Talking about an architecture, the Inca were incredible builders, especially when it comes to the perfectly designed megalith stone walls, that survived many devastating earthquakes. Japanese travelled to Peru to learn the resilience of that walls. They are impossibly flawless and stunning.
6. Win the fight with an educated women, not with weapons.
When Incas, and before them Quechua, wanted to concur the new land, they used to send their beautiful, well-educated women to tempt the hearts of young boys living in the villages. The women quickly stole their hearts, married them and gave birth to their children. While doing so, they indoctrinated their husbands and kids with the Inca culture, tradition and language. We can find the resemblance of that in the Alexander the Great’s kingdom-building strategy, when he diffused Hellenistic culture from Mediterranean to Asia.
7. Re-think super food as normal food: quinoa, avocado, chia and more.
Peruvian food is just delicious and no wonder Lima is known as the food capital of the world. The cuisine is all about spices, flavours, tasty seafood and meat. And it’s damn healthy! When it comes to food, Ceviche – Peru’s national dish, is an international obsession. When it comes to drinks, Pisco Sour is a drink to try. Those who know me, know also that I’m not so much into food adventures, but in Peru I went wild, trying all I was offered.
8. Learn from your past mistakes.
When I’ve spoken to the tour guides, I was very impressed how they perceived the history of Spanish invasion in 1532, which led to the collapse of the Inka Empire. Many of them said: Spaniards did not destroy us, we did it to ourselves. They referred to the fact, that when Spanish arrived, the country was going through the civil war, therefore instead of fighting the foreign enemies, sadly Incas were preoccupied fighting themselves.
9. Celebrate death in style.
Visiting Almudany cemetery in Cusco is anything but a sad experience. It was unlike any other place, where cremated remains were stored in small, personalised niches. Looking inside the niche you can see subjects of remembrance such: photos, favourite drink (can of beer or Inca cola), flowers, toys. It really made me think, what would I like to have in my own niche, maybe a map, yoga matt or something else? It’s colourful, different and thought-provoking.
10. Build something so incredibly alluring, that others just can’t stop staring.
Incas built Machu Picchu, we won’t repeat that, but in our small micro universes we should try to build something extraordinary, worth remembering. Shamefully I have to admit, I was a bit sceptical about visiting Machu Picchu at first. It was never my life-long dream, nor the most desired destination. Oh, how mistaken I was. This place is magical, truly breathtaking and worth every effort of getting there. I spent my 30th birthday sitting just there, drinking champagne, staring all day long, thinking how well life has treated me so far, how lucky girl I was and how grateful I was for the whole experience. I really believe Peruvian Gods were protecting me, making this time so special in so many ways.
What about you adventurer, what is your Machu Picchu story? I’m sure, I’ll love yours x