Arequipa...and off again...

Trip Start Aug 23, 2006
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Trip End Dec 23, 2006


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Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Monday 11/6: Hola from Arequipa. Arrived here on a flight from Lima and as we descended the volcanoes that surround the town were easily visible. The most prominent (and active) of which is Mt. Misti. I collect my bags and find a taxi and ask him to take me to Hostal La Reyna. I read good things about it both in my guide book and on another travel site. 15 soles later I'm there. The woman working shows me a dorm room available for 11 soles per night (less than $4)...the she says there is a private room available for less than a dollar extra per night. Sold! I unpack, get out of my bus clothes and head for the shared shower...damn...only cold water. But like a sign from above just as I am almost finished the water turns hot. It's simple things like warm water, a comfortable bed and cold beer that can turn a bad scene into something great. As the sun is getting low, there isn't a whole lot I can do today, but I venture out while it's still light to get my bearings for tomorrow. As I walk towards the main plaza...I notice the roads...ALL THE ROADS...are packed with buses just sitting there. Including all around the main square. Turns out the bus drivers were protesting something by staging a sit in. Back at the hostel I took a couple nighttime photos and chatted with a guy from Australia who was travelling around with two surfboards, 3 wet suits and 2 sets of fins....a pretty serious surfer. He was taking off that night...so I returned back to the streets to find a locals only restaurant/bar. As I'm walking along I hear "Staying Alive" by the Bee Gees and just couldn't say no to at least one beer in there. Turns out it was a fun bar...locals only with plenty of 80's music on the TV. Went out searching for food and found plenty of places that wanted 15 soles ($5) for a main course...the nerve! My perception has definitely changed for what a good dinner should cost. My friend from the bus (Loreine) only makes 10 bucks a day working a 12 hour shift...and I am betting the employees of the expensive tourists restaurant make the same. Screw that...I'm frequenting cheaper, locals only spots. Back to my favorite bar for one last kid and to laugh with the bartender at the drunk local kids who couldn't handle their beer.

Tuesday 11/7: Woke up early for some strange reason and went down for my $1.50 breakfast and chatted with a girl from Finland who was leaving that morning for the Colca Canyon tour. The canyon is supposed to be amazing with condors that swoop over your heads but I don't have time for the two day tour and I haven't even seen the Grand Canyon yet. Dropped some laundry off and headed out to the city. First stop since it was so early was the main Plaza (sans buses this time) where I watched countless locals toy with the pigeons. The plaza is faced on 3 sides by columned buildings and on one side by the Cathedral. Went inside to check it out and a mass was going on so I was very conscious of my squeaky sandals. Afterwards off to Santa Catalina Convent...yes, a home of nuns. It takes up over 2 entire city blocks and there is a lot of history behind it...much more than I can type in this blog. If you want more info, check on this link: http://www.santacatalina.org.pe/ It is essentially a city within the city as the nuns were not allowed to see anything outside of what was behind their walls. Pretty interesting stuff. We had a good tour guide who actually worked at a McDonalds in San Antonio...small world. There are still a few nuns living in the convent...but they have their own little section and still try to avoid contact with the outside world. Afterwards I walked a few blocks to the Universidad Catolica de Santa Maria...this is where "Juanita" lives....the famous Peruvian mummy. You read more about her here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mummy_Juanita As part of a tour, we watched a 20 minute video and then got to look around at all the stuff that was found with Juanita and other Peruvian mummies. Juanita was the highlite and she was encased in a duel glass enclosure kept at some ridiculously low temperature. The lights were low to avoid damaging her...but it was neat nonetheless. Obviously no cameras were allowed and the guide told us that 3 months out of the year they actually take her and put her in a dark room to keep her from further damage. Had a great cheap lunch, visited an alley way behind the cathedral and then saw some old colonial architecture. Did a bit of blogging and tried to figure out what I was doing next. Around 5:30 I took a taxi to a recommended viewing point of the setting sun reflecting off Mt. Misti. The sun wasn't cooperating, so I tried a second guide book suggestion of hitting a nearby restaurant for rocoto relleno or hot stuffed peppers. Another strike against the book as the food not only sucked, it was expensive. Felt like crap afterwards, went back to the hostel and passed out. I needed the sleep...

Wednesday 11/8: Woke up at 5:30 so I could check out and get my butt to the bus station for one of the earlier buses to Puno. Arequipa has been nice, but apart from a two day trip to Colca Canyon, I can't see another reason to stay here other than the good beer. Puno is my next stop so I can hang out on Lake Titicaca for a few days. Next post from there. Ciao.
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