Less is More

Now that we’ve been in our Cusco apartment for a few months, it’s interesting to note that we have significantly fewer possessions and less things that we “have to do” than back in Marin County. Our material possessions are a fraction of what they were and our lives are much simpler. We have fewer commitments, fewer appointments, fewer responsibilities. Every time we think about this, we realize that we don’t miss any of those things. There are four main ways in which this has been manifested: how we communicate, how we get around, how we eat and how we entertain ourselves.

Communication is much simpler in Cusco because we don’t have a telephone. If we can’t make an appointment, we’ll send an email. The era of instantaneous communication doesn’t exist for us here. The one exception is that our kid’s Spanish teacher, tired of not being able to contact us, did give us her 10 year-old cell phone (that only takes incoming calls) so that she could let us know if she’d be late for a class. Without a telephone, there is much less pressure to be available 24/7 and it foments a healthy feeling of “it can wait until tomorrow.”

Transportation is very straight-forward in Cusco as we either walk or take a taxi; we don’t have or need a car. We live in the city center and most everything is within walking distance. When we need to venture out further afield, taxis are inexpensive and plentiful. We have yet to even think about commuting in traffic, filling up at the gas station, paying for car insurance or worrying about getting our car door dinged while shopping at the supermarket.

The range of eating options for us in Cusco is considerably scaled back. There is not the plethora of Costco & Trader Joes’s prepared foods like back home, so what we are left with is a pretty good selection of fruits & vegetables as well as your basic meats, grains and dairy products. We end up making lots of soups, stews and spaghetti. We don’t have an oven, so roasted meats, pizzas and chocolate chip cookies (!) are not an option.

One of our principal forms of entertainment in Marin County – dinner parties with family friends – has been curtailed significantly. Hanging out with other families, eating multiple courses of rich foods and drinking lots of expensive wine was fairly commonplace for us and to date in Cusco we have yet to host a dinner party. Both my wife and I felt that we often ate and drank too much during these occasions so we feel quite a bit healthier here in Cusco. Entertainment for us here is usually a family night in front of a DVD or a walk around the San Blas neighborhood. In Peru we haven’t yet worried about which wine to pair with the pork tenderloin or where we can find the lemongrass for the Tom Kar Gai.

With less possessions and things to do, our life here has fewer moving parts and has been more enjoyable, healthy and stress-free.


  1. My husband and I relocated to Peru 4 months ago. We are here as volunteers, serving as full-time ministers. We planned and calculated our move for over a year and finally saved up enough money to live here for a while, without having to work, which would allow us to focus on our volunteer work.
    We are really enjoying our experience here, but sometimes, when I have people over I am stumped as to what to cook! I am an avid oven-user and now I am limited to a two burner stove. Everyone that comes over wants to try our american cooking but everything that pops in my head is either baked, roasted, or requires ingredients not available here. So sometimes I have to get creative.
    I love all the fresh produce here so I try to take advantage of that and usually I can come up with something "ameruvian" that everyone enjoys.

    Thanks for sharing your family's experience in Peru! I love reading your posts.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Last night my daughter made garlic bread by sauteing garlic and butter in a frying pan and and then frying the bread on the stove-top to go along with our spaghetti.

  3. Just came back from Peru. We live in Canada. Found your blog on the SF Gate. Got to Cusco and had the most fabulous guide. His name is Renato Baca. renato10cusco@hotmail.com You and your family would love him. All the best,have bookmarked your blog. I am learning so much from you!