Arrival in Arequipa
Arequipa Travel Blog› entry 8 of 12 › view all entries
August 17th, 2009 – by: Linqueen
In a blog entry I made a few days ago, I stated that if I were going to perish in Peru, it would have been on the bus ride from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes. I now must correct that statement.If I was meant to die in this South American country, it surely would have been on the chaotic plane ride from Cusco to Arequipa. I have been on more plane rides in my life than I could possibly count, but I have never been more scared for my life than I was in today's plane. I can state with certainty that my fellow passengers felt similarly. I knew this simply from listening to the cabin's gasps, complaints, and expletives as our plane seemed to be tossed around in the sky high above the Andes mountains. We would fall rapidly and tilt drastically from one side to the next all at once. My heart must have stopped beating momentarily on several occasions, and when we finally touched the ground, to which the entire cabin responded with relief and applause, my hands were sweating from gripping the armrest so roughly.
I was excited when we first arrived in Arequipa, known as the white city, because I was eager to explore another Peruvian city. Upon exiting the plane, we caught our first glimpse o El Misti, one of three snowcapped volcanic peaks surrounding the city with altitudes that hover around 20,000 feet.Arequipa, considered a beautiful and relatively wealthy Peruvian city, has a history of natural disasters. Most recently, in 2001, the city suffered a devastating earthquake that reached an 8.1 on the Richter Scale.
Little did we know, we would face a disaster, on a much, much smaller scale, upon our arrival.We arrived at our hostel, The Point in Arequipa, to discover we had been placed in an eight-bed dorm room, rather than a three-person room. Furthermore, rather than enjoying the lively, comfortable atmosphere of a hostel, we felt as though we had walked into a disgusting, smoky, rowdy fraternity house. Our room was located just off the pool hall, which reeked of cigarette smoke, was covered in a decor of graffiti, and blasted music so loudly that our walls provided no barrier. As we further explored the establishment, we crossed paths with guys wearing only towels around their waists, and we discovered that the showers were co-ed (and you could see through the glass doors on the ones that even had doors). When we asked for directions to the Plaza de Armas, we were told to make sure we took a taxi because we were located in a dangerous part of town.
Frustrated, we strolled into the Plaza de Armas, unsure of what do do about our situation. We were upset that our first impression of Arequipa had been tainted by the deplorable hostel and the bad part of town we walked through to reach the plaza. Instead of enjoying the new city, we spent an hour looking for a new place to stay in a better part of town.We found a relatively inexpensive hotel and decided to move our bags there immediately, even if it meant risking losing the money we had spent at the previous hostel.
After settling in to our new hotel, we decided to seek out a nice place to enjoy diner, in hopes of reinventing our first impression of the city. We found a charming little Italian restaurant tucked behind the cathedral on a pedestrian-only street that was lined with cafes and alpaca boutiques. We sought out a rooftop table and enjoyed our pasta dishes as we planned our itinerary for the following day.
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