There is an interesting French expression: "Ce n'est pas le Perou!" (It's not Peru.)
It's used when people are disappointed by something they expected to like. Strangely enough, most French people who go to Peru are disappointed and end up saying things like "Perou, ce n'est pas le Perou!" (Peru isn't Peru.)
what do they expect that they dislike it? i am always a bit upset with people disliking peru - it is such a great country, but many people stick to the most touristy sites, and then they say "oh it is too touristy there"... oh well... i guess everyone has that with countries they really like...
I think a lot of people decide that Machu Picchu is more trouble than it is worth -- constant harrassment by the people who live exclusively off the tourists. I'm sure that if they spent more time looking around the country at other things, they would have a nicer experience.
indeed... and as for the constant harrassment, well, i found it sometimes annoying too, to be constantly asked if i want to do a tour on cusco's main square etc. - but then on the other hand, that is a town that sees a huge amount of tourists, while the population is struggling to get by (of course there are other countries where people are even poorer, but the locals mainly see the tourists, who are a lot richer than them) - so of course people are trying to survive... but yeah, once you get off the main tourist tracks - and you can do that even in the touristy towns, just by walking a few blocks away from the sights and main square and restaurant areas, you do get quite a different experience...
Not specifically about Peru, but ...... the besiege of would-be guides can make tourists so annoyed that they wind up avoiding what could be pleasant encounters.
When I was in the church in Ocotlán, looking around and discreetly taking pictures, a young woman came up to me and smilingly said, "Look around!" and "Take pictures!". When she began pointing out obvious salient features, I edged away, telling her that I'd been there several times before. In that case I really didn't want anyone attached to me for any reason, but it's possible she was merely being friendly.
In his account of his visit to Cuba, Kerouac gives a perfect example of the problem of the rewards of selectively letting down ones guard.
You make a really good point, Rikita, that outside of the tourist zone regular life is going on and available to the curious traveler.
as for the many guides, the problem is just always when there are more people trying to earn money than there are people wanting to spend money. you can't really blame someone for who the difference is to buy some food tonight or not, though i still get just as annoyed. though i must also say, for all the stories of scams and similiar things i heard about peru, that hardly happened to me at all (except when they tried to steal my stuff in the street by spitting at me, but that was one occasion in four months)... interesting was also, that for example my neighbours, even though they lived right in the centre of cusco, told me i am the first "gringa" they had an actual conversation with...
This is absolutely not specific to Peru, as we all know. I fully understand the economics of the situation and am willing to put up with it. But a lot of "innocent" tourists are thrown into these situations like lambs into a lion's den, and that is sort of a shame (a shame that the locals pounce on them and annoy them and a shame that even new travellers have not sufficiently researched the travel experience).
And even we have breathed a sigh of relief in certain places where we expected to be constantly accosted but were instead completely ignored by the locals unless we sought them out.