Coming into Arequipa we were exhausted. I know that sounds silly and some people might say, “Suck it up, all you’re doing is traveling,” but those of you that travel know that it can be exhausting for a variety of reasons. Coming off my sickness and arriving in Arequipa at 5:30 AM after an overnight bus were our reasons.
Luckily we were able to make the most of it, because this was such a cool city! We arrived at 5:30, obviously could not check into our hostel, so we went exploring. We were located two blocks from the Historical Center of Arequipa (Plaza de Armas Arequipa) that was incredible to see, especially at sunrise with no one around.
Next we hiked up to a hill, on the other side of the river, to the Yanahuara District which must be where all the rich folks hang out. The houses and apartments in this area were very big and very nice. From the top of the hill, we were able to look out over the Arequipa Historical Center (where we were staying) and take in the big volcanoes which surround the city. The most imposing, El Misti, is only 11 miles from the city center.
Once we got the photos out of the way, there wasn’t much else to do as nothing was open yet. So we went back for some free breakfast crepes and put the pressure on getting our room cleaned, then took a couple of great power naps. After waking from our slumber, we ventured back out and had a late lunch at La Lucha—a sit-in chain sandwich shop that had been recommended back in Lima—and were happily surprised by the best food decision we’d made in days. I had the turkey, because I was on a strict bland food diet, and Caitlin had the La Lucha that is their signature Philly Cheesesteak style sandwich with avocado on it. We both had frozen strawberry juices that were fantastic (frozen because in order to make ice they’d have to use distilled water, not tap).
After we’d been satiated, we took a tour of the Monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena. This particular monastery was built in 1579! At its height, the monastery housed approximately 450 people (about a third of them nuns and the rest servants) in a cloistered community. It was damaged twice by earthquakes in the 1960’s, so a new one was built next door, but the majority is still in tact. The place is huge and Caitlin almost broke our camera with the amount of pictures she took, so we’ll just post some of our favorites.
When we were done and walking back, we were treated to a parade with a bunch of children celebrating the birthday of Mount Misti which is a nearby volcano that last erupted in 1985 (we don’t really know if that’s what they were celebrating, we’re taking a guess). Overall, a great city that we could have probably stayed a couple more days. If we would have or if you do come here for more than one day, then a visit to Colca Canyon is supposedly a must (almost twice as deep as the Grand Canyon).