Sacred Valley Massage GIrls Reflect Poorly on Peru


The above picture is a typical path through Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu.  Most of the streets of Aguas Calientes look like this and if you walk along one of them, you’ll find it’s hard to get more than 100 yards without some girl peeking out at you from a narrow staircase and saying, “massajes?  massajes?”
The same thing is true in Cusco, as you walk along it’s pretty rare for you to cover more than a city block without a half dozen girls offering for you to contract their services as street massage therapists.
On my last trip to Peru, we were discussing this at lunch.  One of the guys in our group actually wanted a real massage, but he really didn’t think that’s the type of thing these street massage girls were offering.
I don’t know…I never asked any of them what they charged, but it’s my guess that this is just a very thinly veiled form of prostitution and not any kind of massage therapy whatsoever.
The thing that’s kind of annoying about this is the fact that the sacred valley has NO excuse whatsoever to be in such a poor economical state that women have to resort to prostitution.  I mean, the cost to enter Machu Picchu is S/. 128 (something around $40), and they sell 2,500 tickets a DAY so that makes $100,000 just on entry tickets to Machu Picchu.  Surely that’s enough to fund some social programs so girls don’t have to line the streets offering to give massages to tourists for a living.
Actually I had this discussion with a friend of mine recently about how much money obviously goes through Cusco and how little of it actually seems to ever get into the hands of the locals.  Cusco is a quaint little village, but poverty is clearly present and that just seems absolutely ridiculous.  Where does the money go?  My cynical guess is that it goes to line the pockets of some corrupt political official somewhere along the line…but I don’t have any proof of that (except, of course, the fact that every girl in Cusco seems desperate to give you a massage because she has nothing else to sell).
Seriously though, why isn’t this an issue?  You’d think there’d be some women’s groups in Peru who would notice how bad it reflects on the country when you can’t walk a city block without some girl propositioning you for a massage.
Some enterprising fellow should put together some sort of school of traditional Peruvian dance which offers a three hour show every night.  That would be a fairly respectable way to use the local, unemployed talent in a way that would be far more profitable than just sending them out to the streets to give tourists massages.
Of course, you’d probably still end up with the same old bullshit where the girls would practice all day, dance all night, and some asshole back in Lima would get to cash all the checks.  It’s witnessing crap like this that really forms my general disgust for the rich.  There are just too many cases of little people doing all the work and getting exploited for me to believe that “I only have it because I earned it” line.  But think what you want.
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