A 'brichera' is a girl who targets gringos for their money, something a lot of the guys fall for because it's such a novel experience for them. You get bricheros, too, but mainly the guys here are just after a sh*g with the gringas, so I imagine it's not dissimilar to being at home. I think I'm fortunate enough to look like I don't have any money, but I think I might have met one brichera, a girl who was dancing in the middle of a bar who then came up to me and said "It makes you very thirsty, dancing so much". Fortunately I had a half-finished bottle of water with me, so I offered her that to stave off the worst effects of dehydration. She can't have been that thirsty, though, as she politely declined my offer.
I met one guy who'd had a Peruvian girlfriend for a while, and he told me he'd spent about two thousand quid in a single month. "What on earth on?" was my response, because life here is really cheap. Even when he told me I couldn't quite believe it, but that woman must have a pretty good jewellery collection by now. As soon as he was out of cash and wouldn't treat her to the high-life any more she started a massive row with him and stormed out of his flat. He was heartbroken.
I've also met a couple of guys that have admitted to being robbed after taking a pretty latina home - they have a good time but wake up the next morning a bit light in the wallet, camera and passport department.
Nothing, though, compares to the story this French guy told me.
He'd had a frustrating evening in a club, failing to pull a sexy Dutch blond. While walking home he met a latina in the street and smiled at her. Without a word being spoken, apparently, he found himself in an alley round the corner, she was on her knees, he had his trousers round his ankles and he was having quite a nice time. Then he took her back to his hostel where she continued to entertain him, and she even took some saucy photos of the pair of them.
Then she left.
The following morning he realised that everything he'd had in his trouser pockets had vanished, as had his camera.
He went to the police station to report the crime, but initially the police were sceptical of his account. It didn't seem plausible, they said. Lots of tourists make false police reports in Cusco, apparently, as part of various insurance scams, and the police have become quite sensitive to stories that don't quite ring true. They sent a policeman out to check his version of events and speak to potential witnesses, and fortunately the doorman at the hostel could verify the presence of someone in his room late the previous night, and even identified the miscreant from a photo.
The French lad was left sweating in an interview room while all this happened, and then the police chief came in, leaving the door open.
"There's good news and bad news", he said. "The good news is that the thief is a criminal known to us. The bad news is that it's a guy."
At this point he heard the entire room beyond erupt into furious laughter, and he was ushered out into the main office with a bright red face.
I can't verify the truth of this story, but the bloke swore it happened to him exactly as I've related it to you. Personally I think most people would keep quite if it happened to them, so I found myself believing it.
Touch wood I've still not been robbed yet. I've also not been sick so far, though lets just say that constipation hasn't exactly been a problem. I had a few nervous moments on the bus back to Cusco from La Paz, though.
Having been told it was an eleven hour journey (for which you can usually read fourteen), and still bearing the memorial scars from my ten hour hell-ride from Abancay to Cusco, I'd spent a fair amount of time shopping round the various bus companies, asking about the journey, the condition of the buses and the services they offered. I eventually plumped for a fantastic sounding affair that promised to be direct. Yes, there will be a toilet. Movies will be shown. Meals will be served. There will be lots of space aboard.
While about half a dozen of us were waiting at the terminal for our palatial bus to Cusco, another bus pulled up. It was the oldest, dodgiest, most decrepit and most deserving of being taken up to the Death Road and thrown off that I've seen so far, which is saying something. It wouldn't even have been accepted as scrap back home.
Get out of the way, I thought, our wonder-bus needs to park there.
Then a woman from the bus company came out and told us that this bus would take us to another terminal, from where the real bus would leave. Hurry up and board, she said, the other bus is waiting. No time, no time for discussions.
Now, I've been told some outragious bus whoppers on this trip (in fact in latin america there are three questions to which bus companies are legally obliged to give inaccurate, erroneous or just plain dishonest answers: What time does it leave? How long does the journey take? Is it direct? All must be answered with a barefaced lie or the company runs the risk of losing its license to operate) but when confronted with this audacious piece of sheer effrontery, I almost burst into spontaneous applause.
Not believing for a second that this bus wasn't the one we'd end up lumbered with, and not being convinced it would even make it as far as Cusco, I hopped on board.
Now, the night before I'd been persuaded to try a new culinary experience by a group of friends from my hostel. Astonished that I'd not tried the food in the market yet, and knowing I was leaving the country in the morning, they promised me the best (and the cheapest) meal it was possible to get. They ate in the same place every day, they said, it was always good, they said, it was really clean and they loved it. They said.
It was far from the best, it was far from clean, and it was nowhere near as cheap as I'd been led to expect. Describing it as food at all, in fact, was a bit of a stretch as far as I was concerned, and when I pondered the quality of meal you can get in La Paz by spending about 50p more, I wondered about the hell kind of budget these kids were travelling on.
However, I was hungry so I ate what I could, washed down with a couple of beers and we all went to bed.
Then morning came.
Left to my own devious I can be pretty lazy. On a normal weekend back home it's only either the need to eat or the need to pee that will drive me out of bed at all, so I'm no stranger to the need to get up to use the lavatory.
This, though, was novel to me.
I don't want to go into too many details, but I was rather taken aback by the expansive nature of my toilette the following morning, and my body's enthusiasm to be making this lavatorial evacuation. I hoped that was it. Oh no.
A mere two hours into my 'bus' ride to Cusco I felt the first indications that the bank of Nathan's bowels were ready to make another express deposit, and I knew it was going to be a long trip.
As the journey wore on I was actually glad to have been told the obligatory "No, we don't stop anywhere except Cusco" lie, because during the frequent breaks in semi-deserted villages in Butt-f*ck, Nowhere, I was able to relieve some of the pressure that was building up so quickly. It took quite a few sessions before I was empty enough for my sphincter to relax. At that point so could I.
Like I say, not ill exactly but definitely ... uncomfortable.
You'll be pleased to hear that once we'd crossed the border the bus become almost deserted, and I think because it was a Bolivian company it was granted an exemption from the Peruvian Screaming Baby laws, so the last half of the journey was okay.
So I'm back in Cusco, ready to put the second part of my plan for world domination into effect.