Following a harrowing drive to the airport in Lima morning rush hour traffic, we reached the airport, let our heart beats regulate and caught our plane to Arequipa – the second largest city in Peru. Pre-flight entertainment was provided by a group of a very vocal gentlemen whose flight had just been cancelled.
UNESCO World heritage site
Known as La Cuidad Blanca – the white City because many of the buildings have been built from a white volcanic material called sillar.
Situated in a beautiful valley surround by 3 volcanoes, mountains and high desert. 7000 feet high
Our first evening in Arequipa was spent having dinner in a roof top restaurant overlooking the town square. While enjoying a Peruvian dinner of alpaca, local freshwater shrimp and passionfruit juice we watched the evening promenade of the locals and tourists. A diner next to us ordered guinea pig – while the presentation left something to be desired he said it tasted good…. It is cool here in the evenings and the restaurant very kindly provided us with ponchos to ward off the chill.
The next morning we headed off for a city tour. Our first stop this morning was Carmen Alto a look out where you could see the three volcanos – Chachani and Pichu Pichu are extinct, Misti is still active with the last smoke being observed in 1985.
There are apparently 10 earthquakes here each day. Mostly small – we haven’t noticed any yet -hope to keep it that way. After taking some city shots we went to Janahuara a square filled with palms, artists and surrounded by volcanoes and an ancient church.
It was a beautiful place. We also tried Cheese Ice cream – delicioso!!!! After ice cream we travelled to visit the Monasterio D Santa Catalina built in 1579. It is a nunnery. In the beginning rich families purchased places for their daughters in the nunnery for 200 gold pieces. Girls were sent there at 12 years of age to ensure that their families received favour in the eyes of The Lord. What the girls thought is unrecorded. This practice was banned in early 1800’s by order of the Pope and entrance fees were waived. Currently 18 Nuns live here and their are 8 novices. A girl must be 20 to enter the convent. The Interior of convent was stunningly beautiful with rich terracotta and cobalt blue colours combined with cobblestone walkways and lush geraniums.
Our visit to the town square following the convent tour was dominated by pigeons and pigeon caca. I have never seen so much bird guano in my life outside of a seagull rookery, although I hear we are in for a treat with the Antarctic penguins. The square was also full of people feeding pigeons, and flowers. Our guide Mario took us to a local restaurant for an excellent traditional Peruvian lunch. We then walked through the town back to our hotel and are getting ready for our trip to Colca Canyon tomorrow.