Not many popular artists come to perform in Cusco. A lot of well known acts come to Lima, but rarely to Cusco. This past week was an exception: the popular Venezuelan duo “Chino y Nacho” came to Peru. You may never have heard of “Chino y Nacho” up North, but they have a number of hits and are very popular here in South America. Here they are performing one of their recent hits, “Mi Niña Bonita”:

(sorry, I noticed after I posted this that their videos are only on youtube directly)

I had to leave town for a work trip just a few days before “Chino y Nacho” came to Cusco but I decided to buy 2 tickets anyway, so Patricia could go with her sister or a friend.

My cousin Monica:

One thing I should mention is that it is still common to have large families in Peru and a generation or two ago, large families were the norm in Peru. Patricia has a big family on both her mother and father’s side. Like in most families, we’re closer to some family members than others. Likewise, it’s not unusual here in Peru to be close to someone who’s technically a distant relative.

Monica is one of Patricia’s cousins, 17 or 18 years old I think. We’d probably refer to Monica as “distant family”, I’m not sure if Patricia had even met her up to a few years ago. We’re not close but I occasionally run into Monica in town and we were always very friendly and cordial.

A few days before the concert I decided to stop by “Mega”, the big store near our house, and buy 2 tickets to “Chino y Nacho”. As I was walking up to “Mega”, I spotted Monica out in front of the store. She was dressed very nice to attract attention and had a stash of “Chino y Nacho” flyers in her hand. With her was a boy selling tickets. Nothing unusual, you often see young women dressed nice or flashy to attract attention and sell or promote something in front of a store. We talked for a while and I bought my 2 tickets to “Chino y Nacho” from my cousin Monica and her friend.

Normally I would never buy something like that in the street in Peru. There’s a huge “informal economy” in Peru, street vendors sell anything from ice cream and candy to books, arts, crafts, pirated DVDs, you name it. Something like tickets I would normally never buy in the street, because there’s a lot of fake or pirated stuff out there. I even asked Monica, “These aren’t “bamba”, are they?” (bamba=fake). But I bought her tickets anyway, you know, she’s my cousin…

I gave the tickets to Patricia and instead of being happy she was mad at first, because she didn’t want to go to the show without me 😦

Then I left for my trip to Lima and the US and all was well. However, a day before the concert Patricia called all excited and asked how much I paid for the tickets. I told her the story, all proud and happy that I had bought the tickets from her cousin who had sold me two S/.65 tickets for S/.60 a piece.


“You paid S/.60 for free tickets!!!!”

As usual, Patricia was right: the tickets say cortesia (courtesy) right on them. There’s no price printed on them. They are free tickets. I should have known…

Turns out Monica was working as event staff at the concert and somehow “obtained” a stash of free tickets, which she subsequently sold to unsuspecting fools like me. Probably most people were smarter than me (not difficult to do), noticed that they were free tickets and “bought” them at a significant discount. It wouldn’t be unusual for someone to get a few free tickets and sell them at half the value of a paid entrance, but S/.60 for S/.65 tickets??? To your own cousin!!!!

Oh well, live and learn. There is so much “bamba”, pirated or otherwise useless stuff in the “informal economy” in Peru. Never buy tickets in the street in Peru, not even from your own cousin 😉

One thought on “Cortesia

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