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Arequipa Travel Blog

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As the others went off to climb El Misti I had two days on my own in Arequipa. The first day I was feeling mostly recovered from the travel sickness but my appetite was still shot so not much was achieved.

The next day I was back to normal and checked out a couple of the Arequipa sites I had not seen when we were all there before Colca Canyon. After a big breakfast I went to the cathedral for a look. The main thing to see inside is the huge organ that was constructed I think in Belgium and shipped all the way to Arequipa. Along the way it was apparantly damaged but I didn't see the damage and it wasn't being played so I couldn't tell if the sound was noticably off. The size of it was very impressive though.

Across the road from my hotel was the museum where the famous Juanita is kept on display most months of the year. The museum is strictly controlled so that you have to go with a guide who shows you around in a particular order. I paid the entrance and first there was a roughly 20 minute documentary in an AV room that discussed how Juanita was found on Ambato, how was it analysed, etc., which was a good introduction. I then went with a guide and a group of about 8 of us around the small museum. They have the clothing that Juanita was wearing when she was sacrificed, and it had been carefully cleaned to show what it was like at the time rather than dirty and tattered. There were also other offerings that were found with her on display in the museum. The final part of the tour was to see Juanita herself, where she is kept well below zero temperature in a special triple glass enclosure. The room she is in is very dark, and the small light coming in reflects frustratingly with the different glass panes so you really need to put your head up to the glass to just see her. The extensive effort is made because she was found frozen on Ambato with skin and hair intact, so keeping her preserved on display is a risky business with such old fragile tissue still on her. I was able to see the marks on her head where she had been killed by a blunt weapon after being drugged first.

With most of the afternoon free until the overnight bus to Cusco that night I went back to Crepismo and used their wifi for a few hours. I thought the others were going to meet me there but they were nowhere to be seen so I made my way to the bus station and met them there just as I was boarding. They were all completely stuffed from the El Misti climb - Ryan, Sam and Sandy made it to the top after 9.5 hours from base camp, which is an enormous effort at altitude over 5000m. Liz unfortunately got sick the night before and had to stay at base camp while the others went further up.

The bus to Cusco was again with Cruz del Sur, and we had the luxurious downstairs seats that are bigger but only for a marginally higher price. I think the trick is to book it early because otherwise they quickly get snapped up. Before going to sleep the bus ran a bingo game where we were all given bingo cards and numbers were announced over the loudspeaker. If we got bingo then we were meant to press the attendant button. The problem was it went far too fast for me to understand what numbers were being said in Spanish, so I just sort of stared at my card with a blank look. The others were much the same.
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photo by: halilee