We arrived in Arequipa, a beautiful city of about a million people on a night(mare) bus at 5 in the morning. It seems as if our dune buggy driver took a second job at the helm of the bus and chose a path that literally had no stretches of straight roads longer than a furlong. I managed to sleep a bit but frequently woke up assuming we were about to crash while Jean stayed up and watched Beyoncé music videos all night long. Fortunately, upon our arrival we were allowed to go straight to our room to crash, however, moments later the neighbor’s roosters had a different plan in mind.
This city is surrounded by huge Volcanoes and is primarily built out of the same white stone called “Sillar.” Like most old cities that were founded by Catholic conquistadors, this one features a large cathedral with a square featuring a fountain and trees and such and a bunch of people trying to sell you shit.
Today we went to a market (that was strangely designed by Eiffel, the same one who did the tower in Paris) that was jam-packed with vendors. It was clean enough, well organized and extremely interesting. The butchers had meats from pork to alpaca and the fruit vendors had everything you could ever wish for, including very black baby-dolls hanging above their stands for “buena suerte.” Upstairs was where you find the live animals that were definitely for eating but would easily be mistaken as an adorable petting zoo. Peruvians are good people but their penchant for eating the cutest animals makes you question what’s really going on.
Also of note was the convent called “Santa Catalina Monastery” (or “the nunnery”) that occupies an entire block. It has been continuously operated since 1870-something and was 100% gorgeous. We opted to pay a little extra to take a tour from a humorless woman who had her facts down pat named “Gregoria” and it was worth every Peruvian penny. The place was huge and there’s a lot to say about this place since it truly was interesting but you kinda had to be there to get it. So, instead, here is a choice picture from inside the nunnery:
Our hostel is an old mansion with a lovely garden out back and a lot of roses (blue house in the pictures below). It’s next to a skate park where the cool kids hang and apparently suck-face; our path to town leads us past this one spot where we have seen two couples getting after it. This girl had the fella backed up against a wall and was kissing him in a way you only see in the darkest alleyways on the internet. Knowing that he had something special going on, he didn’t stop her when we walked past but knew danger could be afoot so he kept his eyes wide open and trained them on me. We made and held eye contact. It was weird.
Just outside our hostel is a space where people gather to get hammered off Cuzquena beer and celebrate Catholic nonsense with a live band and a creepy saint on a stick. They whooped it up last night until well past midnight and picked it up again today at 13:00. We left to go eat chinese food (you heard me) and hoped it would be over by the time we returned, but no dice.
Tomorrow we are off to Colca Canyon, just a scant 6-hour bus ride away departing at 3 in the morning. They say this canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and half as grand because USA! USA! USA! USA! We plan to camp, see some Andean Condors and maybe eat a Guinea Pig or two.
Oh, hey, also we pet a baby Alpaca.