The White City

Trip Start Dec 26, 2004
Trip End Jan 29, 2005

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Saturday, January 8, 2005

We are currently in Arequipa - the white city. Tomorrow, Sunday January 9 is our last day. We have the whole day free and we already have it all planned out. But I´ll get to that later.

We arrived in Arequipa on Thursday night, very late at around 1am exhausted it was a grueling 10 hour bus ride but luckily the buses were extremely comfortable and not alot of ppl onboard so Phil and I each took up 2 seats. The buses were amazing! Still with the same bus company ORMEÑO, the seats were leather and reclined almost all the way back you also had tons of leg room more than any other regular bus I´ve ever been on. They had these really neat foot rests too. They fed us decent food and played some movies on the tv screens. I strongly suggest that anyone coming from Lima or Nasca and going to Arequipa take the bus there, the scenery is breathtaking. We went from, dry deserts to green forests, to dunes and then ocean and beach all in just 10 hours. Now I should mention that for Arequipa, since it´s a city in quite the elevation above sea level about 7000 feet above sea level. Quite the change from Lima! So we stocked up on drugs to help us aclimatized properly. Our drug bag ranged from, anti nausea pills, diarrhea pills, stomach cramp pills, headache pills, some glucose sucking tablets and some lemon flavoured candy. Supposedly, the lemon flavoured candy and the glucose are to maintain your sugar level since at high altitudes you need sugar and to be hydradated so we brought lots of water as well.

At the terminal we were met by our tour guide who took us to our hotel - casa andina, which is the chain of hotels we´re staying at throughout our trip - and told us that she´d come to pick us up at around 2pm for our private city tour. We thanked her for giving us the morning off to sleep in it was already almost 2am when we got into the hotel. We didn´t seem to get any altitude sickness which was great but we did notice that it got a bit harder to breathe, basically we would run out of breath alot faster. Pretty strange sensation. I´d highly suggest stocking up on these things to make sure you don´t get hit with a hard case of altitude sickness and are stuck in bed recuperating instead of discovering the white city.

The next day we got up around 930am and went to have breakfast, then we headed out to enjoy our morning off. We walked to the main square - which luckily our hotel is extremely close to - and took some photos. As we were walking through the main square, I noticed some really neat balconies where some ppl were eating overlooking the main square and pointed it out to phil, as we did, we heard a man call out to us. Turns out he was the owner and was advertising his restaurant which was actually the balcony we were observing. We chatted with him for a bit and he invited us up to check out the place. Very impressed I must say. The food was extremely traditional and cooked in a way where peruvians cooked 500 yrs ago. Basically using black stones over an open pit fire and the food was cooked ontop of the stones. Super neat! So we promised the guy we´d come back for dinner that night. We then visited a museum which our guide had recommended we check out. It was a museum about a peruvian inca mummy named Juanita. Very interesting! We weren´t allowed to take cameras in there though, sorry guys! BAsically the story went that some archeologists in the early 90s had come across some inca remains in the high mountains in Peru. While digging for the artifacts, then found a tomb. When they opened up the tomb they found an amazingly well conserved mummified body of a girl. Fast forward to the present and you have a museum dedicated to the girl who they later named Juanita, which displays not only the artifacts and clothing found in her tomb, but her body as well. Of course it´s behind a thick piece of glass with a temperature of '40 degrees celcius as to concerve her well. After the archs found her body they discovered only a few yrs later some other bodies! so now I believe there is a total more than 10 mummies all well concerved. So when we went, Juanita wasn´t there but another body which was found nearby was on display. Supposedly they rotate between the bodies every 4 months or so. I cannot remember the name of the museum but I highly recommend anyone coming to Arequipa to check it out. Just do a search on google for JUANITA and AREQUIPA ´m sure you´ll find the name. Or just contact me and I´ll find the info. Arequipa is wonderful, it´s not very modern but it´s totally colonial. Great place to check out for sure.

The guide was great. She picked us up in a mini van and showed us all the important landmarks of the city all in one day. Inclusind the famous Santa Catalina Convent which I recommend to check out as well. It´s a photographer´s paradise. She also took us to a suburb where there was a beautiful lookout spot to check out the landscape of the city with the active volcano EL MISTI in the background. Simply breathtaking. We spotted some llama and alpaca nearby and Phil tried to get me to pet them, but i´m still traumatized from when I got spit on by a llama when I was young in Peru. NO THNX PHIL!

We had the evening free, so we decided to go over to that restaurant where we had met the owner earlier. The name of the resto is EL COSTCO. It´s in the PLAZE de ARMAS. He recognized us at once and gave us a table close to the balcony so we´d have a decent view of the nightlife. The resto was empty except for 2 ladies sitting at the table next to us. It is low season after all for tourism, which makes it great for us, we have the whole country to ourselves. The menu consisted of some pretty interesting things, including guinea pig and river shrimp. I picked the river shrimp, which had come highly recommended from my family back in Lima. Phil, of course, picked the guinea pig. Wait until you see the photos hahaha! The food came on the hot stones and you ate with your hands just like they did 500 yrs ago. The owner really had a great theme going! We drank some local beers called AREQUIPEÑA and the owner even gave Phil 2 shots of Pisco on the house. We then be friended the 2 ladies and it turned out they were visiting from Santiago Chile. Very cool ladies. They also ended up doing some shots. We ended up closing the place us and Phil and the owner bonded. He gave us his email and wants us to send him the photos from our trip when we go back to Canada. Very nice man for sure. We are probably going to go see him tomorrow share a beer on the balcony with him before we leave Arequipa.

Phil would have stayed much longer I´m sure but I was bugging him to leave because we were going to wake up at 630am the next day to head to the Colca Canyon.

As for what we´re up to tomorrow, we´re going to get up at around 8am have breakfast and head out to the main square cos we heard on sundays there is a big festival that begins at 9am so we don´t want to miss that. Then we´re going to stuck up on some or most of our souvenirs and then go have lunch then rest at the hotel and then go visit our friend at the resto for the last time before heading back to hotel so we can get some rest before heading to Puno
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