Arequipa - Part 1!

Arequipa Travel Blog

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Erica next to a tree in Santa Catalina

We arrived in Arequipa late on Monday evening (althost into Tueday morning) after a long and winding road from Nazca, although it is fair to say that the views of the huge waves rolling-in from the Pacific onto deserted beaches (although we wouldn´t want to take the risk of swimming by them!).  It was very cold after our stay in Nazca, although our taxi drive assured us that it was warmer in the day (well, that is what Jeremy´s basic grasp of Spanish thought!).

We got to our hotel, it was a real oasis.  Lovely manicured garderns around a pool, although it was only 10 minutes walk from the historic centre of the City of Arequipa and the Plaza de Armas.

Another courtyard in Santa Catalina

The next day, we set about exploring the historic City of Arequipa.  It has a lovely colonial plaza that focuses on the fantastic huge white-stone cathedral - built from the white volcanic rock that makes Arequipa famough (well, in Peru that is!).  There are plenty of cheap but high quality eatiers and cafes, the place had a very relaxed feel about it, despite the heavy traffic (nearly all of it being taxis!) and the big number of people milling around. 

The city is towered over by "Misti", the volcano that hasn´t erupted for many years.  It has a perfect conical shape, although unlike some of the other mountains around, it doesn´t have a snow covering at the moment.

Wednesday.  We visted the fantastic Santa Catalina Monestary - which was founded in the 16th century, not long after the arrival of the Spaniards in Arequipa.

A courtyard. In Santa Catalina!
  It is known as much as a document to the evolution of architecture in the area as much as anything else.  It was first opened to the public in 1070, but beforehand it was shrouded in mystery - however, there are still a number of nuns that live here.  It took a couple of hours to walk around on such a hot day.

Afterwards, we found a fantastic vegetarian restaurant - Erica would surely be hankering after some "proper food" soon though!  We wandered around the City, then going to the Arequipa Market - which was a really interesting experrience - a huge covered area that has hundreds of stallholders selling everything from strange looking fruit,  rather unclean looking chicken meat, live guinai pigs to the largest collection of Panama hats that either of us could have imagined!

Thursday - Another day of absorbing culture - this time it was to the Museum that houses the near perfect body of a child sacrifice performed by the Incas around 500 years ago.

Erica next to a fountain in SC.
  It was considered a great honour for someone to be considered a sacrifice to appease angry Incan Gods - in fact, all of the "chosen ones" where prepared virtually from birth and were given the very best upbringing and prepared mentally and physically for the day that they would be taken to the top of the mountain in a procession, before being sedated and left to perish on the moutain (at over 6000m above sea level) in their ceremonial robes after receiving a fatal blow to the head.      Some of the robes were perfectly preserved, as was the body of Juanita herself (although it wasn´t the intention of the Inca´s that she was perfectly preserved, it was simply down to the claimate conditions and the way her body was covered in the finest vicuna and alpaca wool robes.
The view of La Casa Reyna - where Jeremy stayed last time (just across the street from SC) with El Misti in the background

Again, in the evening, we wandered around the lively streets of Arequipa - although it was very busy and sometimes poorly lit in areas, the feeling was that the place is very safe to wander around and had an lively but friendly atmosphere.

The next day (Friday) we had arranged to visit Fr Giovanni Cefai, brother of the Priest at one fo Erica´s local church.  He runs a mission in Tomilla, which is a suburb of Arequipa - the day would be a huge contrast to our time kicking-back and taking-in Peru´s second City with its culinary and touristic attractions........

 

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Erica next to a tree in Santa Cata…
Erica next to a tree in Santa Cat…
Another courtyard in Santa Catalina
Another courtyard in Santa Catalina
A courtyard.  In Santa Catalina!
A courtyard. In Santa Catalina!
Erica next to a fountain in SC.
Erica next to a fountain in SC.
The view of La Casa Reyna - where …
The view of La Casa Reyna - where…
A chapel in Santa Catalina
A chapel in Santa Catalina
Arequipa Plaza de Armas
Arequipa Plaza de Armas
Arequipa Cathedral, rebuilt by 200…
Arequipa Cathedral, rebuilt by 20…
Arequipa
photo by: halilee