No gracias!

Trip Start Feb 01, 2003
Trip End May 02, 2003

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Flag of Peru  ,
Sunday, April 13, 2003

We thought it was appropiate to dedicate a whole update to the sentence 'No gracias', because this has been, without doubt, the sentence most spoken by us during our stay in Peru, especially in the city of Cusco.

These words were mostly uttered to street vendors trying to sell us anything ranging from expensive restaurants to postcards. They usually operate in groups and their behaviour can be compared to the behaviour of a group of hyenas around a wounded animal. One will approach you and offer their ware, nothing wrong there. But, and this is crucial if one wants to have any change of survival, if you show even the remotest interest, and this can be as small as turning the head an inch in the direction of the vendor, the vendor will go in pursuit mode. This means that he/she will follow you even if you keep saying the aforementioned words. Worse, other vendors will pick up your scent and will join the original vendor in the pursuit. While they walk behind you they will fire sales pitches at you, so fast it cannot be understood. At this point the only change of survival is to keep walking and look straight ahead hoping that you will soon walk out of their territory at which point they will abandon the pursuit.

Tourists, because only tourists get harrassed, who are not experienced enough, will stop and face the vendor(s) because they think it to rude to keep walking away while the vendor is talking to them. This moment is like the moment you see in nature movies where the group of hyenas finally manage to force their prey to the ground. It is not pretty sight. And so it happens in Peru as well, with the tourist taking the place of the prey. We have seen it often, the tourist will buy something, anything, just to free him/herself from the jaws of the vendor. Once this has happened the tourist will walk away from their attacker, more fortunate than the prey in the jaw of the heyna, but they will be an experience richer, and, by learning it the hard way, they will have increased their surival changes for the next encounter, which, if you happen to be in the centre of Cusco, is only a few meters away.

This concludes this update. We know it's not a happy one, but hey!, we're portaying life like it really is out here, you can't blame of for being honest.
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