Juanita You Look So Good For Being 500

Trip Start Sep 30, 2011
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Trip End Dec 13, 2011


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Flag of Peru  ,
Sunday, October 23, 2011

    After successfully crossing into Peru we caught a bus to the second biggest city in Peru.  We met a band from Holland on the bus and crammed into a Taxi to find a hostel.  The manager serenaded us with marginal guitar playing as we drove through the city and the bass player
communicated through Napoleon Dynamite quotes.  It was an entertaining evening.  The following day the band headed off to explore Colca Canyon and Jessie and I wondered the city. 
    We discovered a city brimming with Spanish influence surrounded by towering volcanoes forming a semi-circle around the city.  We only spent a day in Arequipa, but we
visited some really interesting places.  Our first stop was Museo Santuarios Andinos where Juanita, a 500 year old Inca princess lives.  According to Inca history after a natural disaster the Inca make a sacrifice to appease the mountain gods.  The sacrifice has to be pure, thus, children (mostly girls) between he ages of 8 and 15 were killed.  They believed that these children would serve as mediators to the mountain gods and in a way they also become gods.  Only the most beautiful and intelligent children were chosen as sacrifices.  They embarked on week long journeys to the tops of volcanoes where sacred rituals were preformed ending with their death.  To maintain their purity the children were given a potent drink to numb their senses then suffocated or hit on the head.  Their bodies were buried there on top of the mountain with sacrificial objects and personal effects. 
    Juanita was believed to be between 12 and 14.  Because of the color of her robe she was probably of royal blood.  Scientists found her in the fetal position where her body was frozen for 500 years, only reveled because the volcano exploded temporarily melting enough of the ice for
explorations to be conducted.  She was almost perfectly preserved, her innards were intact and most of her clothes and belongings were in place.  She even had her original hair.  For being 500 years old she looked great!
    Just one hundred years after Juanita was sacrificed by her people on a mountain top the Spanish saw a weakness in the Inca empire and made their conquest.  We saw the drastic change in culture when we visited the Santa Catalina Monastery.  Although, the Spanish
influence can be seen all over Arequipa, it was especially evident at the monastery.  We spent hours walking through the brightly colored courtyards.
    We found Arequipa to be a very enjoyable city!    
  

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