So This is South America
Arequipa Travel Blog› entry 1 of 7 › view all entries
I left Sunday in the wee hours of the morning. My daughter Sarah dropped me off. One of the perks of having a teen daughter. She can finally chauffer me around for once. Sarah walked with me into the airport and I had a vague guilty feeling since this is the first time I have traveled while Sarah is home and not visiting her dad in Florida. When she dropped me off at the airport she stood and watched me go through security looking all sad and dejected. I miss her already.
But the good news is I made it to Peru, albeit late due to an airplane engine issue, but I arrived in Lima around 1 am on Monday. My sister, Chris, had arranged for a pick up to our hostel and I was so relieved to see someone holding a sign with my name.
I got to the hostel and Chris was waiting for me. It was awesome to see her since I haven´t seen her since May of 2007. I got a little misty for a minute there but it really felt like I had only just seen her yesterday. We sat up talking into the wee hours catching up until I finally faded and passed out.
Monday when we got up we decided to check out the city of Lima. All of the guidebooks and websites I have read are pretty hard on this city. Most of them say that a day is all you need to see all this city has to offer. I am afraid I agree. Lima is dirty and crowded and run down. I don´t mind hanging out in a city like this, but I came to Peru to see the country, kind of do the eco-tourism thing, and Lima and I had enough of each other after a day. We will be back here on our way out of Peru and at that time I am hoping to hook up with a local I have been talking to on this site and maybe she can show us her Lima. I am sure it will be better then.
Anyway, Chris and I decided to head down to the Centro area, where there is shopping and a walking mall and lots of other gringos.
We got to Centro and had lunch, looked around and did the tourist thing.
We had initially planned to stay two nights in our hostel in Lima but somewhere on the endless bus rides around the city we decided to head out to Arequipa right away.
Now Chris had ridden with this same bus company from Ecuador to Lima and loved it. Said it was spacious and comfy and that they gave her food and a blanket and they even played bingo. But I am on a super budget and so we booked through the same bus company only we took the economy line instead of the luxury line she had taken before. It was only $15 but would take us 17 hours overnight to get to Arequipa. There would be no blankets, no food, no luxury and to Chris´s ultimate dismay, no bingo. That bus ride was an experience.
The bus follows the coastline and winds through the foothills of the Andes. Which sounds scenic, and some parts are. But here is something I learned--a large part of the coastline of Peru is desert.
The next time I woke up we were careening around cliffsides that dropped off into deadly rocks and surf. I had to close my eyes a lot. Chris moved to a window seat so she could watch. Around that time the heavenly stench of the bathroom at the back of the bus started to permeate the air. One girl behind us kept spraying perfume to ward off the odor but that wasn´t working at all.
Sometime in the middle of the morning, our bus broke down in the absolute middle of nowhere.
But we made it to Arequipa. Which is beautiful. After we found a room, we immediately headed out to the Museo Santuarios Andinos, where Juanita, the Ice Maiden, is kept. Juanita was discoverd by Johan Reinhard, a Nat´l Geo. explorer-in-residence in 1995. I remember this being huge because I was an anthropology/archaeology major and this was huge news around our university. Juanita was a 12 or 13-year-old child who was sacrificed by the Inca 500 years ago on the peak of the Ampata, a volcano.
After following the discovery in ´95 and the subsequent expeditions by Reinhard so closely, I was excited to be able to get to see her up close and personal.
After we visited the museum, we took it easy checked out the city. It is a beautify city, built in colonial style and laid out with a big plaza in the center. It is surrounded by three volcanos and you can see the tallest, snow-capped one, Misti, from our hostel window. It is breathtaking.
Today, we are taking it easy--shopping and such. We are heading up higher to the Colca Canyon tomorrow, which is deeper than the Grand Canyon, and we need a day to acclimate.
So without any proper seque-Chris amazes me. She has turned traveling into a veritable art form. She has the packing and unpacking thing down to a science. She has been giving me a hard time because while I brought a ton of stuff, I am hardly prepared to travel. It has been 5 years since I last did this backpacking thing and I had forgotten that it can be hard sometimes. I also forgot a lot of essentials like a towel and a watch. But in my defense, I had to bring all of our gear for a 4 day trek up the Inca Trail next week, which means I hauled two sleeping bags, two sets of trekking poles, trail snacks, warm weather wear for both of us, flashlights, water bottles, etc.
Tomorrow the Canyon and then we head to Puno which is the gateway to Lake Titicaca, where indigenous people live on islands they made themselves out of reeds. Sounds incredible. I am sure it will be.