Cusco: My Tourist Hell
Cusco: My Tourist Hell.
Construction workers were hard at it this morning and had us awake a lot earlier than we would have liked to have been. It was noon when we finally left the hostel and the workers were sitting out on the sidewalk drinking beer with their lunch. That-a-be fellas…
Cusco is the kind of place were women in traditional clothing walk around with small lambs sit in purses and peer out at the world while wearing small hats. The highlight of my day was seeing a little Peruvian girl put her fingers in a lamb’s wet nostrils and then taste her fingers after. Cusco, the stop before Machu Picchu, is also the kind of city where there is nothing but mass tourism and if you stand on the main square it is covered with people and all of them are tourists or locals hawking: paintings, crafts, gloves, tours, shoe shines, nightclubs flyers, massages, jewelry, and restaurants. It is the epitome of abused and disgusting tourism. It is Tourist Hell.
One is unable to pass by a Peruvian person without that person saying something to you to try to get your attention to sell you something. There is no sarcasm involved in what I say at all. Every single Peruvian that you pass in the street has something to say and sell to you and no one will let you walk past without a sales pitch. Hawkers will interrupt you in mid conversation to try to sell you something. Hawkers will interrupt other hawkers selling you something to sell you something. On the length of a one block walk, at least 8 people will approach you, get in your face and expect you to give them an answer. I want a t-shirt that says ‘Fuck Off’ on it. If you are looking for Tourist Hell, this might be the mecca.
I ignore the hawkers. I am a total prick. I do not have to say ‘No Gracias’ 115 times during a walk around the city. You are approaching me. I am not looking for you. And I have been approached 85 times already with someone else trying to sell me the same shit. We are nothing but white targets here and the people have no value for us whatsoever other than what might be in our wallets. Cusco is the worst tourist place that I have ever been to. I have ignored at least 20 guys trying to sell me paintings alone. And they want to get in your face until you either buy one or until you tell them that you do not want one. But I am sick of telling them. This country is far richer than Bolivia, but there was nothing like this anywhere when I was there. There are tons of beggars trying to play on tourists emotions. And when you are walking down the street people will get in your way and stand there so that you have to walk around them in their attempt to sell you absolute shit. Like I need a fucking 30 cm carved lama! I would love nothing more than to carry that around with me in my backpack for the next three months while I travel around the continent.
For me, being sentenced to having to stay in Cusco would be the equivalent of going to prison minus the inmate sodomy. This terrible place is Tourist Hell. My friend made a deal with a woman for a picture with her goat. They both agreed that it would cost 2 Peruvian Sols. After the picture the woman wanted more money and was angry at my friend when she would not give more than the agreed price. These people here try to emotionally cheat the gringo. I had a guy fix my shoes. I asked him what he would charge me. He told me that it was up to me with what I wanted to pay. Later, during the job he told me he wanted 20 Sols. I told him, “Great, that is exactly what I was going to give you.” Then, one minute later, after he had time to think, he told me, “Just 5 sols more for my lunch then.” I told him that I though 20 was enough. I hate this Tourist Hell and I will not be able to get out of Cusco fast enough. It is a shame that the earthquake chose cities other than Cusco to visit in 2007.
After dinner my friend and I went to a bar and watched a live band play covers. A raspy cigarette voiced woman singing AC/DC makes me happy. I danced with my friend until about 1am and then we headed home for a quiet one.