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Wagon Wheel Ranch

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Aguas Calientes  

Porters returning from the trek

through Machu Picchu

The railtown of Aguas Calientes is filled with local everyday Peruvian people, trying to make a living.  Thriving on tourism from people of every country — of every age, vendors peddle their wares on the narrow crowded streets, only interrupted by the occasional Cuzco train.  Guaranteed:  there is no shortage of T-shirts available.  Bargains are many, and if shopping is your pleasure, you'll be overwhelmed.

If you think you are overworked, you need to pay a visit to Peru.  It is a country made up of hard-working people.  Simple conveniences for difficult tasks the western world takes for granted are accomplished through hard back-breaking toil.  Most everything, from furniture to hardware goods, food and water, are carried on the backs of strong uncomplaining men and women. 

Travelers come from all over the world to pay a visit to Machu Picchu, and those that trek the entire Inca trail often choose to have locals carry their gear.  Porters use to carry 40 - 45 kilos (about 90 - 100 pounds) on their backs, but the government has now regulated that to a maximum of 25 kilos (about 55 pounds).  The porters earn an average of 20 sols for their days labor — about USD$6.

Even small children learn entrepreneurial skills, hawking everything from small trinkets to hand-woven garments, with a smile that is hard to resist.

Life In Peru

—2001 —

• The native language is Quechuan (pronounced: CATCH-u-an), and is taught at home, not in school.

• The average "middle class" person earns about 500 sols a month (about USD$130).  Outside of the cities, such as Cuzco, it is mostly farmers, and they a very poor, even by Peruvian standards.

• Schools are free, and the children are taught English and Spanish

• Outside the cites, many house are constructed of mud bricks, built only in the dry winter season.  The brick houses are said to be able to last 100 years.

 

Do you suspect this barrel has been this way before?

Inge Terpening (L) and Carla Kramer (R) show off their latest find - llama gloves, purchased from the two entrepreneurs on the left — a bargain at 1 sol (about 35¢).

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