I’m in Bolivia now folks and recovering from some very nasty food poisoning and so have had some time to reflect on my hitchhiking around Peru. Undoubtedly I am going to be asked why I never visited Machu Picchu, given I was even in Cusco the the city from where most Gringos (essentially white folks in SA) make their trip to the ancient Incan city.
So why didn’t it? Quite simply I felt no desire, there is the fact that it costs a lot of money which I don’t have to spare but that’s not the real reason.
There are a number of reasons which I am going to outline in a quick rant so bear with me!
Firstly I found a new breed of Peruvian when I left the coast different from the friendly curious Peruvians I was accustomed too, this new breed I can call money-hungry, evil, scavenging rats.
From the second I jumped out of my truck after a 10 hour ride during the night from Arequipa I knew Cusco was a shithole.
I couldn’t´t sit down anywhere without someone trying to clean my boots with shoe polish, I would always refuse for maybe five minutes and then the Peruvian would usually start just plain begging for a dollar. Fuck off!
Then comes another shoe polisher, or a kid selling postcards I don’t want at a stupidly high price and putting on a fake innocent accent (poor favour, poor favour), maybe I would need to say no for five minutes straight before they leave casting you a dark look, (they all really hate Gringos).
One beggar even tried to get five dollars off me to get the bus to Arequipa he said to visit his family, when I told him I had just hitchhiked from there and he should go do that he still didn’t shut up (saw him later drinking in the street of course).
Everytime I heard “Amigo where are you from” I knew I was in for five minutes of refusing to give away a dollar.
Literally reading a book or relaxing in this city while white is impossible.
In the end I had to book into a party hostel to find some peace.
Now I know what your thinking, O its just a dollar and O Peru is third world and people are poor and your just a self righteous cheapass Irish cunt.
Let me explain something, money was invented so one man can trade his work with another man and a trade is a fair exchange. That’s why money is fantastic and using money in this way is called earning money and buying goods.
When you steal, loot or con someone out of their money in a trade, that’s when money becomes bad, the root of all evil as the saying goes. Cusco had that evil everywhere,
The second you sell that packet of cigarettes for five soles to a Peruvian and 10 soles to a European you are no longer fulfilling the fair trade ethic of using money and earning 5 soles instead your earning 5 soles and stealing another 5. It becomes plain on the faces of these people too, watching from behind counters for a blonde person to enter their store, or pouncing from the shadows with some bullshit tour offer or weed at ten times its real street value. Its that wrinkled old hag with the mini market who deliberately doesn’t give you change, its only to fulfil greed.
Now your thinking, but 5 soles is less than 2 dollars. Who cares?
Even if it is less than 2 dollar its worth money in Peru, In Peru you can buy a lunch which consists of soup, juice and a plate of chicken rice and veg for 5 soles (1.60$). So in other words with one dollar you can potentially feed yourself for the day, and just one more dollar means that you can buy a bottle of cheap rum. So if a beggar or shoe shiner or postcard seller convinces just three tourists to give them one dollar in one day he can get drunk on a full belly.
So no its not just one dollar its actually probably one third of the average daily wage of a farm labourer in Peru or young waitress, how would you feel if you picked potatoes for eight hours all day in a field while beggars could make more money than you in under an hour from annoying tourists until they got a dollar. Worst of all the tourist shrugs off 3 hours of your hard labour saying “O its just a dollar”.
But these people are poor, they have no choice! Its the third world!
I refuse to believe Peru is third world, I hitchhiked from Ecuador to Bolivia across Peru and saw a lot of the country and when people ask me what’s it like I tell them;
“Sure not every family has a car but they got food coming out their asses, and miles of good land not being farmed”
They got three climates with bananas, rice, potatoes, mangoes, oranges, coconuts, peas, onions, basically any veg or fruit possible on earth.
They got goats, pigs, cows, ocean and lakes, poultry, Guiana pig, sheep, al pacas and lamas to eat.
Excuse me if I’m wrong but I thought third world meant malnutrition and famine because Peru probably has the potential to grow (maybe already grows) more food than any European country I know.
You just can’t carry around the attitude that its OK to act in immoral ways because they have a weaker economy, it doesn’t excuse people being cunts.
In Cartagena Colombia I got searched three time in one night for cocaine because the police are hoping to catch a Gringo and then bribe him. I never saw them once searching the cocaine dealers standing outside bars and hostels. On one occasion there was two English girls with me, the Police asked if the girls wanted to ride on their motorbikes and come away with them. After they finally left the two English girls were giggling and laughing about how the Colombians police men had flirted with them. They didn’t seem to grasp the fact that these were two creeps trying to fuck drunk tourists while on their job.
Put it this way if police officers were filmed doing this in London they would instantly lose their jobs and you would be glad.
In the US if one restaurant or bus was charging black people extra wouldn’t it be racist?
Well that’s exactly what the taxi driver is doing when he sees white people in Cusco.
Its not OK to walk around in your north face jacket carrying your lonely planet guide and excuse these behaviours by saying things like. “The people have so little”
They need to be viewed as equals and these practices frowned upon.
If the Peruvian man continues to believe and teach his children that its OK to overcharge white people because Peruvians are oppressed and poor then they will never stop being poor and oppressed. By excusing this behaviour we are looking down on them.
What’s this got to do with Machu Picchu?
There is not only money hungry Peruvians in Cusco but unfortunately expats too ready to take advantage of the Peruvians poor grasp of good business.
Each Peruvian restaurant I ate in with locals was lovely, great food, but no wifi or clean toilets with toilet paper. They need to sort that out if they want to gain German and American customers. Same goes for the little hotels run by Peruvians.
So you will find backpackers hanging out in the McDonald’s located right in the old city of Cusco of course using wifi to book a hostel online which is undoubtedly owned by a European, Chilean or American. On the other side oth the main square is an Irish pub by the way with the disgraceful name “Paddy’s Pub”. Whoever you are that owns an Irish Pub in Cusco’s old town with such a terrible name I hate you, I could compare you to the original Spanish people who came to Peru to loot and steal money from the locals and destroyed the local cultures forever.
Even further one truck driver told me that the train track to Machu Picchu is owned by Chilean gangsters and when I asked where the money for the tickets to view Machu Picchu go he couldn’t tell me.
Its a lot of money too, apparently nearly 3000 people visit daily paying like 50 dollars each so yeah do the math… Where does that money go?
So instead of paying an overpriced train ticket, an overpriced entrance fee and been marched around like fucking cattle in between a bunch of loud fat Americans so I could take a photo of a moment that I am suppose to cherish forever while I stand smiling saying something like;
“Its lovely but such a shame our European ancestors came here and fucking killed everyone”
I chose to take my money and leave.
I didn’t even stop in Cusco to get a photo with the ladies dressed in authentic Incan clothes, you want to know why?
Because Incans didn’t fucking sell sunglasses, she’s about as Incan as Jay-z
How about the lady with a Lama?
No because I have to pay and she’s dragging her baby kids around too trying to put on a pity show, I would rather marry a prostitute then a woman who tried to use her baby kids to earn more money.
For me the memorable moments from Peru will be;
Hanging out in the Chan Chan site by myself alone admiring the ancient stuff.
Sharing Peruvian food and learning about Peruvian music with my truck driver from Nasca.
Making a great friend from Lima through couchsurfing.
Sleeping under the starts in the desert near Trujillo.
Making friends with a native family who live on the floating islands of Lake Ticitaka.
Maybe when I’m old and ignorant from alsymers I’ll return and fill some Chileans pocket by doing a package tour of Machu Picchu. Until then Cusco disgusted me and I can’t even imagine how disgusted I would of been by Machu Picchu and the lovely people I had meet before Cusco had done such a good job impressing me with Peruvian culture I didnt want to ruin my memories.
EDIT : This article has generated quite a bit of hate so I will explain a bit better,
At the time of writing I had recently got robbed by Bolivian Police at the Peru border while hitchhiking so I had a very pissed off attitude towards the Police and other people out to take money from tourists. So yes I was a little extra fueled with anger.
As for the bad language, thats just how I write, and speak too with the occasional F word.
People claiming I’m cheap and all that and don’t pay for hitchhiking. Of course I don’t pay it’s hitchhiking. I worked in the US for a couple months but had no more Visa and this is my way to afford to learn about and travel South America making friends along the way. If I see a hitchhiker back in Europe I pick them up. I explained this too Peruvians and they loved to exchange stories and chat (except on the road from Cusco to Puno), its not begging, they are going in this direction anyway.
Yes I do speak Spanish, for everyone saying that I’m a spoilt Westerner who can’t speak Spanish
As a hitchhiker budgeting his trip usually by sleeping outside and eating at the cheapest local resteraunts you see Cusco from a different perspective to the tourist who has a hotel booked online and dosent see 100 dollars as much money to spend on a trip to Machu Picchu. You don’t see the true ugly face of the taxi driver because you can pay for the taxi.
O and by the way I do love Peru, I loved Piura, Trujillo and Lima especially. Going to Machu Picchu I tought would have ruined my fond memories of Peru
Just an opinion people!