The Ice Maiden

Arequipa Travel Blog

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Jason and Karen stand in the Plaza de Armas.
      Relieved to be in a nicer region of Arequipa, we walked two blocks to the Plaza de Armas this morning, which consists of a symmetrical square of gardens and a central fountain surrounded by arcaded buildings on three sides and a monumental cathedral on the fourth. The buildings in this historic center are made of sillar, which is a porous, white volcanic stone. The sillar is what gives the city its nickname of la ciudad blanca.
      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.
We enjoyed lunch at a quaint nook in the courtyard of a colonial mansion.

      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.
Jason and Karen get helado con queso.
Once at the peak, she was most likely made to fast and given drugs or an intoxicating beverage before the twelve to fourteen year old girl was killed by a swift blow to the right temple.
      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.
This is the interior of La Compania, a Jesuit church.
Although we had found a comfortable place to sleep for the next couple of nights, we now had the unpleasant task of returning to the Point Hostel to speak to the manager about getting a refund.
     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.
I kneel at a confessional booth.
He then agreed to give us a third of our money back, but I still wasn't satisfied. I asked to use his computer, and I brought up our reservation on, where I showed him the three-bed room we had reserved and all of the amenities guaranteed to us on the website. In the middle, I casually pointed out where we review the establishment on the website. Once I did that, things changed drastically. We were suddenly offered multiple apologies for the inaccurate advertising, a full refund of our money, a free night's stay whenever we would like, and bottles of beer. After more profuse apologies, he even paid for our taxi ride to lunch!
      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.
This is the interior of the cathedral in the Plaza de Armas.
About an hour later, we enjoyed a favorite local dessert, helado con queso, which we purchased from a street vendor in San Francisco Plaza. Helado con queso is ice cream made of egg yolk, cream, milk, and sprinkled with cinnamon on top. It was quite delicious!
      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.
La Truffa is one of our favorite restaurants in Arequipa.

     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!
rafaelp says:
actually, the name is queso helado, not queso de helado.
Posted on: Aug 21, 2009
mhiskett says:
I agree with Alicia, way to wear them down. Also, the helado con queso sounds delicious! I can't wait to see all of you!! Love, Mom and Dad
Posted on: Aug 20, 2009
AliMcCann says:
Way to get your money back, and then some! The Colonial House Inn sounds nice though. Are you going back there after Colca Canyon?
Posted on: Aug 19, 2009
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Jason and Karen stand in the Plaza…
Jason and Karen stand in the Plaz…
We enjoyed lunch at a quaint nook …
We enjoyed lunch at a quaint nook…
Jason and Karen get helado con que…
Jason and Karen get helado con qu…
This is the interior of La Compani…
This is the interior of La Compan…
I kneel at a confessional booth.
I kneel at a confessional booth.
This is the interior of the cathed…
This is the interior of the cathe…
La Truffa is one of our favorite r…
La Truffa is one of our favorite …
Karen spreads out in our huge room…
Karen spreads out in our huge roo…
photo by: halilee