Sex, Drugs, and Parties Fuel Anxiety in Cuzco

Tourist Interviewed by the Police

An orgy in Cuzco, near Saqsayhuaman, fueled by drugs, flowed the whispers and then headlines. This came right after the press filled with stories about nudity in Machu Picchu and elsewhere.

Then, of course, a flock of shaking fingers and demands for punishment flew in. They easily settled on Facebook and occupied its space for a while this week.

The initial report on RPP, the Peruvian news service, relayed that Close to 60 foreign tourists, mostly Israelies, were intervened by the police in a “frenetic party” carried out in a compound of dwellings built in Mulluqocha section of the Saqsayhuaman Archeological Park” The police action occurred at 1:30 am due to “strident music and untuned shouts.”

The article claimed the Israelis and friends were performing a “Roman fiesta” with drugs, booze, and sex.

The big news, though buried in the article, was that the partygoers had harmed some of Cuzco’s heritage by moving stones and damaging ceramics. Then, the article noted the compound of buildings had been built illegally in the Park and that in one of them they found Inka ceramics that were probably removed from the ground when the house was built. A legal process has begun to have the homes demolished.

The article also noted that the Police and officials from the Ministry of Culture found cans of spray paint that could have been used to vandalize (spray graffiti, I think they mean) on Cuzco’s Patrimony.

So many things come together in this article.

First, it brings the outrage Cuzco feels in the face of a tag on the Twelve Angled Stone and the general knowledge of the outrages that happened in the building of major hotels on Inka sites with no possibility for police action.

It mentions the invasions that are happening around Cuzco, and even in the capital of Lima, where people build houses or other buildings on ancient sites, thereby destroying the heritage. Much of Cuzco sits on Inka sites, legally or not, and yet there are politics and outrage, as well as a need to point fingers in the face of generalized outrage and feelings of futility.

One should not forget ambivalence about tourists, especially backpackers. In this case the focus is on Israelis who generally come on a strict budget after finishing their military service and, as is much discussed in Israeli social work, let loose while traveling. That focus, not surprisingly, brings out uncontrolled eroticism and drugs.

However, the Israelis and other tourists are not alone. A market with deep Peruvian ties to drugs and services enable them.

As a later report noted, 8 Israelis and 2 Peruvians from Lima were detained as part of an investigation into enabling drug consumption. One of the Limeños was said to be the organizer of the party and the other the source of drugs. “ Wesly Astete Reyes, the provincial investigating judge for Tourism informed that the detained will be investigated for the presumed crime of facilitating, favoring, and promoting the consumption of toxic substances or drugs.” They are expected to be held at least for fifteen days.

The later article announces that the compound was an inexpensive hotel, called an hostería, favored among backpackers. It also claims that besides Israelis, Argentines were among those partying.

Gossip circulates in Cuzco that such parties, involving sex, drugs, and alcohol, are common in the backpacker hotels, where management organizes them as part of a draw for tourists.

Like many tourist centers, Cuzco is not only a place for up-scale tourism, but also one where some people seek erotic and narcotic experiences. Peruvians are only too happy to supply them with those services as part of gaining a competitive edge, whether the service is legal or illegal.

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