Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I should probably tell you a bit about the Peruvian bus experience. First you go for the ticket seller shouting your destination the loudest (this will be the first bus to depart) then you get on said bus and wait an hour and a half after your departure time while the bus driver hopes to find more passengers, then when a few appear, you think hooray we are departing, then he stops again a few inches down the road, beeps a lot in hope of attracting more customers. When we are genuinely on our way, he drives like a maniac, overtaking on blind bends and nearly careering off the side of high slopes. He also stops regularly to pee in full view of all passengers. During the journey random people in the middle of nowhere get on the bus sell interesting street food (quite useful (and tasty) actually on long journeys) then get off the bus again in the middle of nowhere. And this was just to get to Arequipa. I have also been on buses that don´t even leave the terminal after the obligatory hour wait past the departure time because they are illegal!  

Arequipa was a surprise because before I arrived in Peru, I knew nothing about it. I wish I could have had more time here to explore the CaƱon del Colca which is double the depth of the Grand Canyon in America. I only had one day here so I visited the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, which is one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen in all of South America. I spent a whole morning just wandering around getting lost and drinking it all in. I then went out into the surrounding countryside to see the still existing (but rapidly decreasing under the weight of Arequipa´s expansion) inca terracing that leads up to the volcano El Misti. I also tried Rocoto Relleno which is spicy beef and veg and rice stuffed into a spicy (but not quite chilli hot) pepper. I then got on the night bus to Lima.

The view from my hostel at breakfast, you can see the volcano El Misti in the distance

Arequipa is named the ´ciudad blanca´ because many buildings here are built from white volcanic rock caled ´sillar´

Inside Monasterio de Santa Catelina, one of the many cloisters

Orange cloister, so called because of the orange trees in the centre

Typical cooking stove

timber roof

These are paintings of dead nuns in the profundis room. They were painted after they died (very quickly!) so many have their eyes closed and are quite pale which gives them an eerie feeling

This is the bathing area

The great cloister

This is where the nuns had to walk through when they arrived and take a vow of silence

View of El Misti

Trip out to the countryside

Paucarpata on the edge of Arequipa

More countryside with some inca terracing

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