Arequipa - Arrival

Arequipa Travel Blog

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Dublin dude and Cynthia
My overnight bus trip went fine, although there was a two hour delay because of Sunday evening traffic on the Panamericana Highway, much of it weekend beach bums returning home.  I managed to sleep somewhat and awoke after the ten hour trip south near the bus station outside of Arequipa.  Since I thought I'd be staying for more than a few days, I decided to really choose a good hostel.  I trundled my bags back and forth but as Murphy's law would have it, after looking at about six hostels and ospedajes, I realized that the first one was the best.  The others were either too expensive or too shabby and decrepit.  The Los Andes hostel is right off the Plaza and very open, clean, well-lighted and exudes an air of inexpensive comfort.
A mixed crowd...I'm next to the crazy Irish girl! Her fiance is to the far left.
  It turned out to be all that and is one of the better places I've stayed in Peru.  Granted, the single rooms are smaller than the monk's cell at the Franciscan convent I visited a few days later, but with a comfortable bed, use of the kitchen, tvs and dvd players, amiable fellow travelers and very kind front desk girls, for $5 a night I can't complain. 

Feeling pretty good, and very hungry, I took a taxi outside the center a little way to have lunch in a place that is somewhat like a country grill.  There is open land around the eatery and scattered houses.  Inside the complex, a number of portly women garbed in white were bustling around in a large kitchen.  I couldn't count all the burners and pans arrayed on the counters.
Neil and David, biking from Argentina to Alaska!
  Clearly this was the place to come for choice.  I'd heard that it was renowned for offering typical food of Arequipa, which is famous for its cuisine in Peru.  Even though the sun had gone beyond the clouds and obscured the view of El Misti, I sat outside in the fresh air.  I tried the sampler plate which included some ho hum pork indeterminably cooked, a wonderful kind of scalloped potato layered with cheese and egg, and the famous rocoto relleno which is a large mild red pepper stuffed with minced beef, raisins and some kind of grain in a rich gravy and topped with a slice of white melted cheese.  Scrumptious!  I had ordered a couple other small bites, just to try, and they surprised me the most.  I bit into this morsel that resembled a zucchini fritter and my eyes rolled back in my head.  It wasn't zucchini but a mixture of spinach and calabeza which is some kind of sweet squash.  I imagine it was bound by egg and seasonings and fried.  Oh my, I hadn't tasted something that good in Peru in a long time!  The other tapas sized plate was some kind of green lima bean that was boiled and salted.  It had a pleasant licorice taste and wasn't mealy at all.  I enjoyed them too but by then I had gotten quite full.  The waiter brought over a small shot glass of anisette as a digestivo and I thought that was a nice gesture.  The skies darkened and it started to rain so I grabbed a taxi and headed back.

Later that evening I went out looking for something to eat and maybe a beer, but more than anything I was looking for companionship.  I figured the English pub is always the place to check out for that and sure enough I wasn't disappointed.  A couple guys were finishing a game of pool and when they saw me sitting alone they invited me to a game.  Neil, a fiercely proclaimed "Welsh English", and David, just as adamantly "Scottish English" are on a long motorcycle trip starting in Buenos Aires and ending in Alaska.  They had their bikes shipped and sold off some stuff to make the trip happen that they had been planning for years.  David was the more fit and had already summitted Mt. Aconcagua, the highest peak in the America's.  Big and burly Neil provided moral support from the base.  They are an odd couple, old friends, and endlessly entertaining.  I had a bit of a problem with the accents, especially when they were telling some jokes.  I had to have Neil repeat the punch line three times before he gave up and David explained it to me another way.  And foreigners think we all speak the same English!  The pool was devilishly difficult because of the tight pockets.  Every shot had to be exactly precise to sink a shot and that lengthened the game by at least double.  By the time David won we both didn't care and just wanted the game over.  I was invited over to a nearby table to share in the conversation with a few Irish and some locals.  One of the girls, a boisterous lass from northern Ireland, was there with her fiance, a guy from the highlands, originally from the jungle, who is trying to scratch out a living in Peru.  They met last year and she came back from Ireland with money raised to buy toys and hot chocolate and panettone for about 500 children in a village near Puno where her boyfriend lives.  She had the whole event documented on her camera and was showing the picures and telling the story.  They just got engaged and I couldn't think of a more unlikely couple, but I wish them luck.  They did an ancient Incan pagan ceremony that entailed gathering together a bunch of everyday objects each of which represent some aspect of marital life, and burning the bundle as an offering to Pachamama, Mother Earth to the Incas.  Afterwards a bottle of wine was sprinkled over the area and the Irish girl lamented such a terrible waste of good alcohol.  I would have been surprised at any other response!  We talked and laughed until I simply had to go.  In the Irish and UK spirit, they didn't let me go without a fight, but they did marvel at my resolve and looked at me admiringly saying something like, "amazing how those Americans can leave a good party early"!  I found out later that they moved on to another place open later, and probably closed that down in the wee hours of the morning.  I hadn't had dinner and was feeling the effects of the three beers I had (child's play in the eyes of my seasoned friends) so I begged off and went back to the hostel.

Belluomo says:
I couldn't imagine doing a modern day "Motorcycle Diaries" But these guys are doing it! I'm doing it my own way, stopping to volunteer in La Paz, Bolivia..heading there in a couple days!
Posted on: Feb 25, 2008
sybil says:
what great people you met. the bike tour is crazy!!! ...but i bet one memorable experience!
Posted on: Feb 23, 2008
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Dublin dude and Cynthia
Dublin dude and Cynthia
A mixed crowd...Im next to the cr…
A mixed crowd...I'm next to the c…
Neil and David, biking from Argent…
Neil and David, biking from Argen…
photo by: halilee