Thanks for the great trip report Rick! I'm hoping to get to Chile and Peru in the next couple of years. I doubt I'd be brave enough to do it with just a tarp, so kudos for that!
Underwear... Victoria's Secret... Micromesh Panty
Interesting choice. And what was your partner wearing? ;-)
Generally, it is wise to carry along a bag of lemon candy or similar treats to give to locals whom you feel inclined to treat.
I'd *strongly* discourage this. In theory it's a nice thing to do, but in practice it just fosters an unhealthy relationship between foreign trekkers and the local population. As you noticed yourself, it encourages people to approach you simply for the purpose of asking for candy (or whatever). In many cases this makes it impossible to have any sort of normal interaction with them. As you noted, it's often the case that people keep asking for a sweet even after you've said no.
I find it really sad when I go trekking in places like Nepal and I meet children on the trail. Instead of saying "hello" they say "hello pen?" or "hello bonbon?". I don't think this is a good way for children to learn to interact with foreigners. Generally these children are not so poor they need to beg for food, but by handing out stuff on the trail I feel we are undermining their independence and self-respect. In other countries, such as Vietnam, it is wonderful to meet children who do not view foreigners as walking vending machines. They play and interact naturally, and are delighted to meet you and say hello or play a game. I had about 5 kids hanging off my legs in Vietnam once and it was lots of fun!
A much better alternative to giving away candy/sweets is to find a local school in the mountains and give some school supplies (books, pencils etc etc) to the school teacher. This has a much more positive and lasting impact and promotes a great relationship between visitors and the local community.
ps. Sorry if I sound like I'm preaching, but foreigners handing out candy on the trail is one of my pet hates!