Porters returning from the trek
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.
• 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
• 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.