The White City

Trip Start Sep 24, 2010
1
12
15
Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Hostal Riviero

Flag of Peru  , Tacna,
Friday, October 15, 2010

By Kate.

We woke up in Tacna with early morning tickets to Arequipa. We rubbed our eyes, splashed some water on our face and put on yesterday's clothes. Hurrying to catch a taxi so we could be at the bus terminal by 9:00am, we barely had time to run a brush through our hair and across our teeth.

Once we arrived everything was smooth sailing. They had a waiting room for us that we spent about 25 minutes in and then were escorted over to the bus where our luggage was taken care of and we were shown to our seats. What service! And I should also say, what entertainment! Once we got on the bus, the tvs were playing music videos… but not just any music videos, American rap videos. And not just ANY rap videos, but versions of those videos you would NOT see in the U.S. Where most rap videos feature scantily clad females shaking all of their body parts, this one did as well except we could SEE all of their body parts! It was slightly humorous and slightly embarrassing watching these videos as the families and little old ladies entered the bus. We wondered what they thought of that if they thought anything at all. Women are often thought of as objects in the "machisimo" culture many of the Latin American countries tolerate.

Our bus ride was comfortable and painless. It took about seven hours and we had the “cama” seats so they reclined a bit more. Nice! On the way, we indulged in some Puruvian favorites for snacks, corn on the cob with cheese and Inca Cola! They sell both of these everywhere. We arrived in Arequipa and were immediately hassled by taxi drivers. We chose one and were off to the plaza. We planned on looking around, but the taxi driver had other plans. He took us to two places he knew of, one of which we decided to stay at.

After plopping our stuff down we headed out for a stroll and some food. By this time we were hungry for some dinner! We walked towards the plaza and were in awe at how pretty this town was! After weeks of desert and dirt, the White City really lived up to its name. All the buildings were beautifully architected in elaborate designs and they were of course, white. It was stunning when all lit up at night. The Plaza was surrounded by arches and huge cathedral that was breathtaking at first sight. It was the most beautiful Plaza de Armas we had seen so far, and we’d seen a lot of them (see videos)!

We decided on a little pizza place offering a personal pizza and a beer for 15 soles ($5). It was satisfying enough (especially since we indulged in the happy hour special, 3 beers for 10 soles) and we headed back. We were tired and wanted to get a good nights sleep.

Staying at this hostel may been one of the poorer decisions we made as you are never supposed to go where the taxi drivers take you because they are just trying to make a commission. The hostel seemed nice with multiple levels, spiral staircases, a terrace and a small, shared kitchen. Once settling into bed we realized that the bed sucked. I guess I did not do a good enough check of the mattress. We definitely felt the springs… ALL the springs. Also, it seemed that I did not get away from the bed bugs in Chile. They had followed me to Peru!!! I was up all night scratching and reapplying bug spray. In addition to these 2 terrors, we had arrived on a Friday night and the disco next door was BLARING latin dance music until 4am!!! It sounded like we were sleeping on top of it. So, lesson learned, DON’T LISTEN TO TAXI DRIVERS.

We had agreed on a cheaper price to stay there for 3 nights, but after our free breakfast we packed up and got the HECK out of there! I wasn’t about to pay them the difference for a night full of misery.

We had scouted out a new place earlier and headed over. The woman was SUPER friendly and willing to help us with whatever we needed. We got a huge room with 4 beds for some reason. I guess she didn’t have anything smaller. The place seemed clean and I was HOPING against hope there were no bugs in that bed.

We headed out to explore the town. It was nicely built with pretty white buildings everywhere and nice parks. We took a little walking tour going along a route suggested in the book. We passed by many churches, parks, and museums. Arequipa is known for its monasteries, one of which dates back to the 1500s. In addition, we had stunning views of the Andes and volcanoes all around us. At the climax of our walking tour, we stumbled upon a wedding in one of the churches the book suggested to check out. Obviously we couldn’t go in, but it was interesting to see the happenings going on outside the church. All the girls were dressed like they were going to prom, hair extensions and all.

We headed back. It was about mid-afternoon, and we decided we wanted to tour the muy antingua (very old) monastery, Santa Catalina. There is enough to say and plenty of pictures that it will receive its own blog post. Please read when you have time.

We had an uneventful night of home-cooked meal and tv. But, will the bed bugs return? Read on…

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! Dios mio it was awful!!!!! They attacked my hands which swelled and stiffened all night causing intense pain besides the itching. My arms had 10 to 15 new bites as well. At least the 2 factors of uncomfortable bed and loud disco had been removed, but we still could not stay here. Once again it was time to move. We told the woman it was because we couldn’t get our computer to connect to the internet, which was also true. I should’ve shown her my arms!

We had already found another place earlier that morning and headed over. The Hostel Riviero. Please please PLEASE let this one work for us!!! It was in the best shape and seemed the nicest out of the ones we had picked so far. We parked our gear and headed out for an afternoon of plazas and parks. We took some wine with us and were planning to sit around and enjoy the scenery. We walked to a park across the river from us and found that it was closed! It was so pretty and looked like the perfect spot to sit. The park across the street was also closed. Maybe on Sundays they closed all the parks? We were confused. We decided to head over to the bridge where a few more parks were located and on the way, we discovered with these 2 lovely ones were closed. They had held a food festival the day before and they were taking down the setup and cleaning up the parks. Ahhhhhhhhhh! Makes sense. I was more disappointed that we missed the food festival than that the parks were closed.

We did find a park eventually where some practicing jugglers provided us with some entertainment. We sat, talked, and drank some wine. After a time, Eric started feeling a little sick and we needed to head back. This was the beginning of a 2.5 day stint of sickness that poor Eric had to endure.

Once we got back to the hostel that night we basically stayed there the next 2.5 days. No bed bugs, no noisy disco, and a comfortable bed, but Eric was sick with a badass bug that didn’t let him keep much down. Probably some lettuce or something washed with regular water. We were trying to be careful about what we ate and drank, but sometimes it sneaks by you.

So, we waited it out. I ventured out of the hostel every now and again to get food, water, and medicine. I had also gotten some calamine lotion for my bites which helped a bit. We made it through, and by Wednesday morning he was feeling well enough for us to be on our way. Goodbye White City! You were majestic and beautiful, but also the worst sleeping and feeling that we had come across on our trip. GET US OUT!!!
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Comments

Jenn Mason on

I really like reading your travel blog entries. It's a little like exploring a part of the world I'm never going to see. I'm glad you're exploring the world!

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