Falling in Love with Arequipa

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We currently find ourselves in the lovely southern city of Arequipa. Though I was enchanted by Cusco, it’s brisk nights and cloudy days were starting to get to us. So we did as we’ve done before and hopped on a night bus- to wake up in a new city.

It was clear on our first day in Arequipa, that this was a special place…The cloudless skies & sunshine, outstanding cuisine and amazing Spanish colonial architecture. With a central plaza that has to be one of the most beautiful in all of Peru; exotically trimmed trees, flowers, palm trees, stone fountains and flocks of overly friendly pigeons giving free aviation shows. Benches filled with happy families; peaceful political protesters, tourists with cameras, ice cream cart venders. Snow-capped mountains and volcanos overlook the city.

It’s all very charming, really.

Anna and I have spent the last two days aimlessly wandering the city- learning the streets, exploring it’s nooks and crannies; eating street food (the skewer lady by the Cathedral is best) eating at Sangucheria’s (the amazing sandwich and smoothie cafes), eating the ice creams and desserts the city is rightfully known for; basically just eating in general; spotting plazas, parks, vibrant markets, ancient cathedrals.

The definition of pleasant.

Our first night in Arequipa, we suffered from exhaustion and confusion as a result of a long overnight bus ride, and succumb to our weakness when we take a hostel recommendation from our taxi driver (note: don’t do it). We book the night at a musty, dilapidated hospedaje. Dingy, dungeon like rooms, mold, century-old sheets, damp bathrooms- the faint sound of a baby crying, and a doorbell from hell (literally went on for a full minute anytime anyone rang it). But we all got our own private rooms and bathroom; for around $7. Anna ends up sharing my room. This place was far too depressing to sleep alone.

We move to the Point Hostel early the next day. A breath of fresh air; a five star hotel compared to our previous night; open aired, spanish tiles, sunshine streaming down on vibrant blue walls, a large friendly lounge area filled with friendly travelers from around the world; a bar and WIFI.

We get the small rooftop dormitory; with access to the glorious rooftop patio. We are pampered by the clean bathrooms with hot water. This is more like it.

On our second day we wander some more. This is a city meant to be explored by foot. We indulge in more sandwiches from heaven, and ridiculously large waffle bowls of gelato ($2.50 US!).

In the afternoon we decide to join others from our hostel and head to a dance club on the outskirts of town. This place turns out to be surreal- 3 pm in the afternoon and its packed to the brink with Peruvians drinking large plastic cups of beer, dancing to Muscia Latina… there are performers on stage rousing the club patrons- 4 or 5 men dancing to the music- reminiscent of Chip N Dale dancers- Peruvian women screeching at them. There are women dressed as nurses giving out “shots” and there is a man in a crazy costume and wig with a ghostbuster-like gun shooting liquid into clubbers mouths. This is a bizarre place; but we dance away the rest of the afternoon. A Peruvian club is like a Zumba class with Cynthia- Anna and I know every other song played.

We get home just after 6 pm grab phenomenal pizza from a cafe near our hostel, hang out in the hostel lounge for a few hours; and decide to call it an early night.

On this day- we haven’t quite decided how we’ll spend it. I currently sit on the roof top with my iPod and bluetooth keyboard; with the hot sun and the sounds of the city. We have a long night bus to Lima departing late tomorrow evening (and a flight to Ecuador on Wednesday), so we’ve decided to do a full day tour to Colca Canon (one of the worlds largest canons, famous for its condors and breathtaking landscape) tomorrow. It’s a 3 AM departure; so we may go white water rafting this afternoon, or eehh, we may spend another day eating and wandering. Since Anna is napping, I may also take a nap in the sunny hammock?

Just some of the tough decisions we are currently faced with…>20120527-110422.jpg

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