The Ice Maiden
Arequipa Travel Blog› entry 9 of 12 › view all entries
August 18th, 2009 – by: Linqueen
Our first stop of the day was at the Museo Santuarios Andinos, which contains a perfectly preserved Inca maiden sacrificed over 500 years ago. We began our museum tour by watching a video, assembled by National geographic, which explained the discovery of the ice maiden and the story behind the girl's death.
Juanita, the name given to the Inca maiden, was first discovered at the top of Ampato volcano in 1995 by an American anthropologist. She had been amazingly preserved in ice for over 500 years until the hot ashes from the eruption of a nearby volcano melted the snowcap on the Ampato volcano. The mummy's well-preserved corpse allowed scientists to study her skin, hair, blood, internal organs, and even the content of her stomach.
Since only Inca priests were permitted to ascend to the peak of Apu Ampato, Juanita would have known her fate. She would have first met with the emperor in Cusco before she began her imminent journey, in the sandals she was found wearing, to meet the mountain gods.
After watching the informative video, we were guided through the dimly lit museum to view the artifacts the young girl, and a few other mummies, were buried with. The culmination of the guided tour was the viewing of Juanita, who was buried in a semi fetal position so that she could easily enter the afterlife.
Next, we moved our bags to yet a third hotel, since the hotel we spent the previous night in had no availability for this evening. We settled in at the Colonial House Inn, a 200 year-old house in an eclectic area with large bedrooms and a great rooftop terrace.
When we arrived at the "frat house," we were told that the manager was on a conference call and would be occupied for a while. We told the lady that we would wait, and we made ourselves quite comfortable in the reception. When the manager finally came out and listened to our situation, he told us that he would not be able to give us a refund. We weren't going to leave that easily! Since the friendly approach was not successful, I started piling on the complaints and explaining how what was advertised online was not what we had experienced upon our arrival.
Relieved to have our money back in our pocket, we enjoyed a nice lunch at La Canista, a charming bakery and lunch nook hidden away inside the courtyard of a massive colonial mansion.
Later in the day, we visited La Compania, a 17th-century Jesuit church which contained a handsomely carved cedar main altar, beautiful painted murals, and elaborate confessional booths. We also visited the 17th-century neoclassical cathedral, which dominates the Plaza de Armas. Even though the cathedral suffered considerable damage due to a 2001 earthquake, which felled the cathedral's two main towers, it has been beautifully restored to its original grandeur. Unlike most cathedrals, which tend to have darker interiors, this one is light and airy with peach and white walls and ceilings.
We returned to La Truffa for a dinner of pasta and a Peruvian favorite, a red pepper stuffed with spicy meat, onions, eggs, olives, and mozzarella cheese. After dinner, we randomly found ourselves sitting in a piano and singing recital in the Peruviano and NorteAmericano Center. I don't possess the musical vocabulary necessary to adequately describe the performance, but it was an enjoyable way the hour!
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