12 November, Thursday - Day 16
Bus to Arequipa
Up at 7 am as a tour group of twelve had made a lot of noise leaving the hostel at 6:30 am. Our bus transfer isn’t until 8 am so used the free internet in the lobby. The bus ride to Arequipa is bumpy but otherwise comfortable. Vendor came onboard and sold us giant white corn on the cob with salty white cheese (choclo con queso). It was very filling, almost like eating 2 or 3 ears of corn. I was surprised to see flamingos on a lake in the Andes. There are supposedly three types of flamingos in Peru. The bus played the movie “The Devil wears Prada”. It was dubbed in Spanish. As we approached Arequipa we saw a truck trailer on its side. It had just recently overturned as its wheels were still rolling. Must have taken the curve too fast. Luckily, it was on the other side of the road. Caught a cab from the bus station to our hostel. The taxi driver gave us a tour of the town’s center but charged us 6 soles for the ride which was supposed to only cost 4 soles.
The hostel tries to sell us a 2 day tour to Colca Canyon. The tour has too many stops for my taste (7 per day) and looks rushed. It will cost about the same for us to do it ourselves but then we can take our time. For dinner we just had soup di criolla -- meat with poached egg, noodles, pepper, and tomatoes. We book our bus for Cabanaconde using a local agency. There’s a slight surcharge but we avoid having to go back to the bus station to buy the ticket.
13 November, Friday - Day 17
Free Day in Arequipa. Andes Museum, Santa Catalina Monastery, Municipal Museum.
Up at 6 am. Used the free internet and explored the hostel and did some laundry. There’s laundry lines on the roof, a small kitchen, a large fridge, a tv room with many DVD’s and other hostel guests to talk to. It’s already warm in the sun although the high is supposed to be 70 degrees. There’s very little humidity and our clothes dry fast.
We walked around and visited a church (no entrance fee, unlike Lima)
The Plaza de Armas is beautiful because it is built with white volcanic rock called sillar.
Earthquakes had hurt the buildings in the past but all is restored now. A garbage truck passes us playing “Fur Elise”. When one hears the melody, one thinks “ice cream” not “trash”. In the plaza, some students grab us for a tourist survey. I practice my Spanish, they practice their English. Found a delicious $2 set lunch of soup, salad, main course, dessert and carambola juice. Enjoy it in a courtyard patio. The sun is warm and the breezes are cool. We then go to the Museo Andino which is famous for its exhibition on Juanita, the Ice Princess. A tour is mandatory and they show us a 20 minute film as well. The fancy exhibition reminds me of the Treasures of King Tut.
We visit the small village convent complex of Santa Catalina Monastery.
Murals depicting different version of the Madonna
It was created by the Jesuits in the 1600’s and until the 1970’s was closed to the public. The government forced it to modernize so in order to pay for the upgrades, it opened for tours to the public. It’s the second most expensive tourist site we have been to with its $10 entrance fee. At one time, it was home to over 400 nuns, now only 40 are cloistered there.
Different streets within the convent have different colors and character
Many of the early nuns had their own kitchen and servant.
We still have a little daylight left so take in the local Municipal Museum. It is a great bargain at 2 soles (66 cents). There was an exhibition of miniature facades from the 1930’s of Arequipa buildings, some of which no longer exist. Displays of sculptures from sillar, portraits using different painting styles, historical photographs showing earthquake devastation, and National Geographic articles about the volcano valley (too far to us to visit). One painting of a schoolroom shows a boy’s trouser bottoms wearing out.
Earl has been after me to try cuy (guinea pig) at the local restaurant. Unfortunately, it is closed when we arrive. So we walk another block and have dinner at a fancy tourist restaurant. The waiter suggests the sea bass and shrimp which is delightful. We also try the palta relleno -- Avocado stuffed with vegetables, and it is wonderful. The local bakery has apple pie tarts. So we get those and some cheese empanadas for tomorrow’s breakfast. A little orange vanilla pound cake leaps out at us so we get it for dessert. Heard from some of the fellow hostelers that we just missed a bus strike in Puno. We notice that despite wearing sunscreen, both Rusela and I are getting a tan.
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