What I Learned From a Reality Tour in Peru

I want to tell you a story.

Several years back, when I was traveling through Peru, I stopped for a couple of days in Arequipa, a city in the south of Peru.

One of my primary reasons for visiting Arequipa was to go on a “reality tour”.

A tour where they take you to place that tourists normally don’t visit: a rock quarry, a cemetery, a community food program.

In the rock quarry, we were introduced to one of the workers.

I’ll be honest…I don’t remember his name.

But I do remember his life story.

He was about 60 years old, had a wife, two grown daughters.

And he had been working in the rock quarry almost all of his adult life, 40 years or so.

Doing hard, back breaking work in the hot, hot, hot sun for almost no money, 10-12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week.

He had no health insurance, no pension.

On top of that…one of his daughters was recently divorced so now he had to financially support his daughter again, as well as his grandchild.

Oh, and did I mention his body size? 

I’d be shocked if he weighed more than 120 pounds, soaking wet.

And yet there he was…breaking up rocks all day long…and then lugging them to other parts of the quarry so that they could be transported throughout Peru to build houses for well-to-do Peruvians.

So think for a moment about this man’s life.

Hard, hard work day after day, week after week, year after year.

For only enough money to survive and nothing else.

This was his past, his present, his future.

Maybe sometime, a long, long time ago he could have made some different life choices that would have led him to a slightly better path in life.


But probably not.

I have no doubt that he was born into a poor family in Peru.

And when you’re born into a poor family in a developing country, the chances of escaping the crushing grind of poverty are small.

Very small.

The truth is that this man never really had a chance in life, never had a chance to pursue his dreams the way many of us do.

And so now you’re probably wondering why I told you that story.

It’s not to make you feel guilty or ashamed about being born into what was (probably) a better life situation than this man.

And it’s not to dismiss any success you’ve achieved in your life.

Nor is it to diminish your own personal struggles and challenges. 

I wrote this for one reason and one reason only…

To remind you that despite any struggles and challenges you’ve gone through in your life, you also have opportunities that most people in the world will never, ever have.

So please, please, please take advantage of your opportunities in life, no matter what it takes.

Maybe you’re feeling stuck, maybe you’re going through a transition in life and not sure what path to take, maybe you’re feeling tired and burnt out.

I get that.

I really do

Cause I’ve been there plenty of times myself.

But please don’t let any of that ultimately stop you from taking advantage of the many, many opportunities you have in life.

And one day those opportunities will run out.

So don’t wait too long to take advantage of them…

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. A really thought provoking post and inspiring too. Yeah its reality which we forget many times…???? but sir thankuu so much for this post????. It came on right time. I guess I just needed this so that I trust myself and take a leap of faith and avail the opportunity standing in front of me. Thanks a lot????????????

    1. You’re welcome Anjali! Best wishes on your leap of faith!!!

  2. great reminder – thanks for sharing Ed :)

  3. Wonderful post Ed! Sometimes I look to my own past struggles to remind myself that I can keep pushing onward. I let myself have my small meltdowns, with some tears, 3 year old whining sounds, some pouting, some “not fair!” stomping, a few “why me’s” and then I’m up at em’ again! I want to enjoy this ride called life and feeling sorry for myself for a day is all I’ll allow. Then I use the frustration to propel myself forward toward what I really want.

    1. Awesome Michelle! I obviously know a bit about your struggles and I know that you´re an awesome role model for people with physical problems. Keep propelling yourself forward my friend!!!

  4. Gratitude and perspective. What wonderful gifts to bestow on us. Thank you for everything you do and are.

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