1. work extremely hard or incessantly "we toiled away"
synonyms: work hard, labor, exert oneself, slave (away), grind away, strive, work one's fingers to the bone, put one's nose to the grindstone
1. exhausting physical labor "a life of toil"
synonyms: hard work, labor, exertion, slaving, drudgery, effort, industry, 'blood, sweat and tears'
However what is clearly apparent is how well these local people look. They may be old, perhaps in their sixties or seventies or even older (it's sometimes hard to judge) but they are physically fit, slim and able bodied. In contrast our puny, overweight city-style bodies struggle in this climate and would not last long in these conditions.
Perhaps it is they who have it right and our modern society with all its apparent modernisation and technology have it all wrong. One thing is for sure; if there was a calamitous world event that would wipe out our existing technology and infrastructure then it would be folks like these that would be the survivors.