Those Seductive Tour Guides of Cuzco

A Tourism Guide and Tourist in Machu Pichu

To be a good guide is to present a story that enchants tourists at the same time the tour guide charms them with their personality. Yet, that charm and the story may go beyond the bounds of professional encounters and into something more intimate, whether friendship or sex.

A host of researchers from Lima’s Cayetano Heredia university published an article some seven years ago reporting a study of tour guides and sexual behavior. It appeared in the Journal of Travel Medicine.

For this study, 161 tour guides in Cuzco answered a questionnaire and gave blood samples for further testing. They were a subset of tour guides who had signed up for a recertification course.

The average age was 32.5 and 50.6% of the sample were women. The majority of the guides were single (53.4%) and 42.3% of them were in a stable relationship.

The vast majority, 67.5% lived in the city of Cuzco and more than 81% had some higher education. Only 30% were full time tour guides. The guides tended to speak a language besides Spanish, most commonly English, 93.8%,  and then Italian and French with much lower percentages.

The researchers report that 10.8% of the guides in Cuzco surveyed had sex with foreigners, though only 65% reported that during the last year they had sex with anyone.

Those guides who were sexually active reported having an average of two partners over the last year. The ones who had sex with foreigners had an average of foreign partners that was slightly less, 1.5.

Tour guides spend their days with tourists and may help them into the night, by taking them to restaurants, discos, and bars–the places where an earlier study by the same authors pointed out tourists find new partners for sex.

Among the guides, men were far more likely than women to have sex with a foreigner.

Things such as living in the jungle or guiding to the jungle as well as speaking more languages were associated with having sex with foreigners. Surprisingly, so was the claim of not being eager to have a sexual encounter with foreigners.

This suggests to me that though not strictly Bricheros, according to the dominant way this goblin of Cuzco’s sexual life is presented, tour guides are similar in that they spin a tale of the exotic and enchant tourists. They live by the magic of their craft. But this survey shows that only about one in ten guides has gone to the next step, over the last year, of taking the tourists to bed or being taken to bed.

To state it the way I have heard some tour guides tell it–the nubile and hot foreign women comes to their rooms in the night and surprises them with desire. Though the earlier study points out gay and bisexuals travelers are more likely than straights to have sex with a new partner in Cuzco, I have never heard anyone speak of the hot and horny male tourist coming to their room at night, though it sounds like that may be more likely, if the tour guide is not the one doing the nocturnal visits.

Only 2.5% of the guides reported having homosexual encounters with either foreigners or locals in the last year

However, the study holds that in their sex lives  as a whole 42% of the guides reported never using condoms and only 39.1% wrote that they always used condoms.

27.6% of the guides surveyed said they had symptoms like those of sexually transmitted diseases. And, 22% said they were are risk of STDs.

When their blood was tested a different scene opened up. A whopping 88.2% of the blood samples had anitbodies to HSV2, the genital herpes virus.

Only 15% of the blood samples showed antibodies for chlamydia and no one had antibodies against treponema pallidum, the spirochete that causes syphilis and other diseases.

The research also reported that 15% of the guides reported having sex with professional sex workers.

The authors of the article expressed concern about the low use of condoms and worried about tour guides as sources of infection for travelers and for a more general, Peruvian public. They say current sexual health education is not working and that the whole issue needs to be revisited by researchers and planners.

Reference: Miguel M. Cabada, MD, Fernando Maldonado, MD, Irmgard Bauer, PhD,KristienVerdonck,MD, CarlosSeas,MD,and Eduardo Gotuzzo,MD; “Sexual Behavior, Knowledge of STI Prevention, and Prevalence of Serum Markers for STI Among Tour Guides in Cuzco/Peru”, The Journal of Travel Medicine, 2007; 14: 151–157

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