Arequipa, the white city

Trip Start Apr 05, 2010
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10
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Los Andes B&B

Flag of Peru  ,
Saturday, May 22, 2010


My first night bus was quite an experience. We decided to go with the most known and "fancy" bus, full with gringos and rich Peruvians, a bus company called "Cruz Del Sur". And this wasn't just a bus, more like a fancy airplane with wheels in stead of wings.

Before getting in we had a hilarious safety-check. The employees had metal-detectors, which they used to scan everyone's body and backpack. Which are of course full with metal so the device keeps beeping constantly, and still the safety-agent says "OK", and you can go, ha! I wonder if they think it makes another noise with knives/guns!

Once on board, they came on board with a consumer video camera, filming everyone's face. I first thought it was a crazy tourist so I waved smilingly at the camera. But now I know better! This is serious business ;)

The flight, ugh I mean ride was supercomfortable, reclining seats, blanket and pillow, meal, movie, steward... This is not how I imagined traveling in South America at all! But the bussystem is very very developed here, more than anywhere I've ever seen.

Arequipa would be the cleanest city I've seen till now. It's called the white city because most of the walls are made of white stones.
I was going to CouchSurf, took a taxi to the house of my host, but right at that moment got a text she couldn't host anyway. Shit.
So I grabbed my guidebook and chose any random hostel and asked the driver to bring me there, who of course charged double then.
The hostel was very expensive for South American norms, they didn't have dorm rooms so I had to take a private room, for 37 soles, being 11 euro. But my room was crazy! HUGE!! You could comfortably have a party for 50 people in there. I had a twin and a queen bed and could choose which one to use, and my own bathroom with hot water, breakfast included, and wifi. Again I felt so rich
The hostel itself was also super-spacious, kind of odd really. Everything was like stretched out. They told me they didn't have double rooms left, only single. This is crazy, my room had 3 bedspaces, makes me wonder how many beds a double room has??
Until now I find Peru to be full with extremes :)

Although my host canceled, my day in Arequipa ended up being amazing thanks to CouchSurfing. A very nice girl, Frida, met up with me, and showed me a lot of places, from a beautiful viewpoint to the marketplace with delicious juices, to cultural sites. She told me stories about the town, about the earthquakes that often happen and how people get trained for that in school, and the 3 volcano's surrounding the town. One of them, the Misty, still being alive and could erupt in the future, while Arequipa is right at its foot. Scary. She also helped me deciding I'll take a trekking tour the next day, and helped me book a busticket to Cusco for half the price of Cruz Del Sur but the same exact fanciness (the only big difference was that I was the only gringo on board, but actually I very much liked that, cause it means I am paying the right price :) )

Arequipa left me the impression of being a very pretty and clean town, and really alive. 
I wouldn't be sad going back there :) 1 day was definitely too short. I ended up booking a 2-days trekking to the Colca Canyon, having to leave with the bus at the ungodly hour of 3am. 
The trek was amazing but very very tough with the altitude, and a physically hard trek I think, Colca Canyon being the deepest canyon in the world. More about this, with pictures, in the next blog :)
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