Anywhere I went in Cuzco, Peru, I got hustled by little children who sell everything from finger puppets to clothing. It’s common, really, they and their families need the money, but here is the crazy thing – all these children speak better English then most grown-ups in travel agencies around town. I would think an office job would be much better for a ten year old than selling trinkets on the street, but maybe they know something that I don’t.
Once I was tailed by two little girls who wanted me to buy something, and when they saw they were not getting more than “No, gracias” from me, they moved on to plain old begging for money, saying it’s for food. It’s heartbreaking, but feeding every child on the street is impossible. Every time I have any food in my backpack, I’m all too happy giving it away for the needy, but this time I had only a couple hard candies in my bag, that I promptly gave to the girls. “Esta no es comida (This is not food),” said the girls judgmentally. And then added in perfect English: “It’s bad for teeth!”