Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lindsey's Arequipa

Selina and I have been keeping busy the past few days and have covered
a lot of ground in experiencing the Peruvian culture. After our last
emails we had a few hours to relax back at our hotel before venturing
back out to check out a little bit of the nightlife that Miraflores
has to offer. In search of dinner we circled the main square a few
times not wanting to make the same mistake as we did for lunch. We
ended up at a moderately priced restaurant where we had our waitress
laughing at us when we were confused by how to eat our appetizer. Cold
corn on the cob with a dipping sauce and cheese.

The next morning we woke up early for our flight to Arequipa on
Peruvian Airlines. This is a new airline that just started flying this
past fall. Their planes looked like they were made of recycled plane
parts from the 1980s. I´m glad we landed and that part of the trip is

We´ve been enjoying our time in Arequipa just bumming around the main
square of the city and into the neighborhoods. Our hostel is decent
with a nice staff that endlessly tries to sell us tours to Arequipas
neighboring Colca Canyon. We decided that hiking the Grand Canyon was
enough desert hiking for one year and declined the 3 hour bus ride to
look at another big hole in the ground. What we were really excited
about was a museum that has a frozen body of a 12 year old girl,
Juanita, that was offered to the volcano gods as a sacrifice by the
Incas. The artifacts were discovered by a geologist after the
neighboring volcano erupted and it´s ash thawed the frozen ground
enough to reveal Juanita and the trail that the Incas had taken
hundreds of years ago. Everything from her skin, hair, clothes and
other offerings were preserved in the frozen ground. In the early
evening we wandered the streets and came across the main downtown
markets with everyone out and about shopping for the holidays. At
first it felt like Arequipas version of the cluster of people on
Michigan Ave. (Obviously not nearly as big). The farther we got from
the main square the more the lights of the store fronts gave way to a
market feel. I started to go into a booth with shoes and realized
about 20 feet in that it might have been an endless black hole of fake
Addidas and Converse. We resisted the bootleg DVDs and went in search
for dinner. We ended up having a great 5 course meal for 23soles which
is about $8 each of soup, chicken, potatoes, crepes, coco tea, and of
course a pisco sour.

Today we have kept just as busy wandering the streets enjoying some
more market areas and views that look out over Arequipa and some of
the nearby volcanoes. I visited the main cathedral in town and had a
few minutes to say a quick prayer. Their nativity seen was gigantic
and I´m sure will be a site on Christmas. (definitely an easy place to
forget your children haha) We also spent part of our afternoon
visiting the Santa Catalina Monastery. It is considered one of the
most impressive colonial structures in the city and takes up a few
city blocks. The monastery was built in 1579 but has not been open to
the public until recently in the 1970s. Very good experience but our
tour was probably a little bit too long when the only descriptive
verbs our guide could describe things were as ¨old.¨ No shit.

Well we´re off to grab a small dinner and then bed. Early 6 hour bus
ride to Puno in the morning. We are hoping to go to one of islands in
Lake Titicaca, Amantani Island. They are the only island that is part
of Peru that has a small family run inn. Hopefully we won´t have too
much of a problem with the Christmas holiday.

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