Sex and the Tourist in Cuzco

Sex. There you have it. People do it. Wherever they gather they connect and sex can result. This is true at home as much as when people travel. But for tourists there has been little data, since sex happens in privacy.

Of course there is the much commented, and often maligned or secretly admired, image of the Brichero, the local from Cuzco who hustles foreigners for sex and gifts. But again, that is something people gossip about or are warned about, not something generally well studied, although Peruvian journalists produced a spate of reports on the topic.

Into this breech strode researchers from the Cayetano Heredia University in Lima. In an article entitled “Sexual Behavior in Travelers Visiting Cuzco” that was published in the Journal of Travel Medicine, the team of scholars reported they gave a survey to travelers leaving Cuzco at its airport and main bus terminal.

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Once the data is all combined, sliced, and diced, the researchers say the survey shows that of all the travelers (that means the 2,946 who returned the survey) 5.6% had sex with a new partner while in Cuzco.

Ok, despite the allure of tales of the Brichero, that number is not very high. And it gets worse for the Brichero. The majority of that sex with someone different was with fellow travelers (54.3%).

Still, to save the honor of the Brichero and give some merit to all the stories, 40.7% of the sex was with locals.

Yup, for you math types, there is something missing here. The researchers did not treat all locals equally. They split professional sex workers off from other locals. The pros claimed 2.15% of the sex outside of travelers’ established relationships.

And to bring the total to almost one hundred percent, 2.9% of the tourists had sex with two or more of the categories. Still that is not a huge number for randiness and that travel urge to try something new, you know the “what-happens-in-Cuzco-stays-in-Cuzco” stuff.

In case you are interested where they found the willing partners, whether fellow travelers or locals, the researchers tell us. It’s the discos, bars, and pubs.

(Although, there are lots of local stories about romance at night on the grassy land by Sacsayhuaman).

Travelers Enjoying the City Attractions
Travelers Enjoying the City Attractions
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Most of that 5.6% of travelers were not that adventurous. They only had one partner (70.3%) while a few had three or more (15.9%) and that “more” went up to twenty.

So I guess you want to know who these randy types are.

Well the gay and bisexual travelers, who were only a small percentage of the total set of visitors (3.2%), were far more likely than straights to have more partners.

But, those who had sex with a new partner while in Cuzco were more likely to be men, single, younger, and to be from somewhere besides the United States.

They also were most likely to be traveling alone or with friends, rather than with family, and to have stayed longer than 30 days in Cuzco.

Oh, before I forget, almost 70% reported that they always used condoms.

Yup. Sex happens.

But among travelers to Cuzco it is almost always with the established partner, especially when the two travel together.

Those who go a wandering, however, make for an interesting group and will require we rethink the fantasy of the Brichero, but we will leave that for a future post.

P.S, You might notice this research was published a decade ago. It is old, yet I could find no publication that looks at the issue of travelers and sex more recently in such a comprehensive fashion.

While still important, I would imagine that bars and discos are ceding some turf to the world of apps that help people hook up. They too have claimed a space among Cusqueños of late, I am told

Miguel M. Cabada, Manuel Montoya, Juan I. Echevarria, Kristien Verdonck, Carlos Seas, and Eduardo Gotuzzo; “Sexual Behavior in Travelers Visiting Cuzco”, in the Journal of Travel Medicine, 2003, 10:214–218.

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