Arequipa and its friendly locals
Trip Start Oct 06, 2010
77Trip End Mar 14, 2011
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Where I stayed
Los Andes B&B
After settling in I went to explore the town and see about doing a trek into Colca Canyon. I checked out the usual tour operators listed in the Lonely Planet and a few others for good measure. The last place I checked out was Naturaleza Activa. Kris was a super friendly lass and we had a long chat about Arequipa. I actually went in to ask about the canyon trek and left signed up for a mountain biking down Picchu Picchu. Yes Man / Si Hombre strikes again!!
I crashed early as I think the altitude (going from seal level to 2300m) and the overnight travel wiped me out. It does take a while to acclimatise.
Guillermo (Biking Guide - I nicknamed Grande Willie Style) and Eduado (Company Boss - I nicknamed Grande Hombre) picked me up at 8am the next morning. We picked up Diego (Italian chap) and the 4 of us headed for Picchu Picchu. I felt the altitude change once again as we went from 2300m to 4250m. I became light headed and my feet went numb for a while.
Right from the start the 4 of us hit it off and the banter was entertaining. The Peruvians teaching the gringos Spanish slang. I now know how to swear at other drivers in Spanish. It took about 90mins to drive up Picchu Picchu and from there GWS, Diego and myself jumped on out bikes and headed down the mountain. The first 30 kms were down hill and the second 30kms were through village and crop areas. The scenery was wicked and GWS gave us a lot of info about the local area, Peru and Inca history which was fascinating. It was a great mountain bike trip with very knowledgeable guides.
We got back to the agency office around 3pm, where Diego and I were invited to join Kris, GWS and Grande Hombre for lunch. We said Si. We all went to La Lucila which was a fantastic local Peruvian restaurant owned by a 100 year old called Lucila. Many beers and good food followed. Kris has an especially cool dish called Rocoto Relleno which is red peppers hollwed out and filled with meat, onions, olives and cheese.
GWS shared some of his immense local knowledge at lunch. Some of the Peruvian foods such as Kiwicha (breakfast protein food) are used by NASA´s astronauts to help them survive at high altitudes. He also had a funny story about the the difference between a normal husband and Inca husband. Normal husbands are considered disposable husbands and only last you 8 years whereas an Inca husband comes with a lifetime guarantee to operate up to 6000m. There you go ladies, perhaps its time to upgrade your husband for an Inca husband.
After lunch (which our host would let us pay for) we went back to their office and got out a bottle of Pisco and some shot glasses. As the evening got more merrier we agreed to meet at Orisha´s salsa club at 10pm. Orisha´s in the premier salsa dancing venue in Arequipa and it was easy to see as the locals strutted their stuff. I was inspired by Kris´ friend Jimmy who has trained as a dancer in Arequipa for the last 6 years. So as we continued on to 4am arrangements were made for my first Salsa lesson the next day.
Sunday was a slow start. It took me a while to get started so I had some lunch and checked out Santa Catalina. Where nuns used to live an hedonistic lifestyle from 1580 until around 1880, where upon a new tough Dominican mother superior arrived and the partying stopped. The place was closed to the outside world until it was forced to open to the public in 1970.
Next it was off to my Salsa lesson. I agreed to meet Jimmy and Italy (Kris´ friend who kindly offered to be my dance partner for the lesson) at Orisha´s at 3pm. I wasn´t sure where we were going to practice but then the manager of the club turned up and opened the club for our private use. Sweet!! Two hours of lessons followed. I would like to say that I carved up the dance floor but in truth it took a while to get the hang of the moves. Both Jimmy and Italy were very patience. At the end though I had the hang out it and and now ready to attack the salsa dancefloor on my travels. A huge thanks to Jimmy who taught me and to Italy who gave up her Sunday afternoon to be my partner and ask of nothing in return. Italy was also my translator as Jimmy didn´t speak english. All in all it cost me 50 soles (12 pounds) for 2 hours to hire a dance teacher, a dance partner and a dance club for my private use. Once again it was a great case of the locals looking after me.
It was a fantastic couple of days where I got to see and experience the best things of the Pervian culture through the eyes of the Peruvian locals. A big thanks to everybody I met and especially the team at Naturaleza Activa who went above and beyond the call of duty to show me a great time. I defintely benefited from travelling in the off season when they weren´t as busy. Nevertheless I wrote a recommendation to the Lonely Planet because these guys were so good. Something I´ve never done before on all of my travels.