Areqipa - The White City

Trip Start Feb 15, 2008
Trip End May 31, 2008

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Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, February 28, 2008

Next stop was Arequipa. I arrived at 8 am after the relatively comfortable overnight bus trip with Cruz de Sur. Arequipa is Peru's second largest city and lies in the highlands at the foot of the snow-capped volcano El Misti. El Misti is currently inactive, but erupted strongly between 1438 and 1471. The city is located at an altitude of 2,380 metres and the mornings here are mostly sunny and warm while the afternoons generally cool and cloudy. Arequipa has many fine colonial-era Spanish buildings built of sillar; a pearly white volcanic rock used extensively in the city, and from which it gets its nickname La Ciudad Blanca (the white city).

I stayed at the Hotel Corridor which is really nice, quiet, close to the main centre and has a great breakfast. After a short rest I took the 2 pm open-top bus tour which gives you a great look around the entire city. The tour goes for 4 hours and visits a number of lookouts, a mini alpaca farm, the founder of Arequipa's mansion and a historic water driven mill. Arequipa is quite a large city with a population of around 880,000, though it is certainly nowhere near as noisy or chaotic as Lima.

The next day I met up with my other Peruvian friend Ale (short for Alejandra). She teaches English to children at an English college in Arequipa and on this morning they happened to be having a presentation day where the children did some performances. I ended being the special foreign guest and was called upon by their MC for the day, Gonzales, to give a bilingual account of what Australia is like, what I thought of Peru so far and which places I'd visited. The kids did some singing in English, some dances and other activities to demonstrate the English they'd been learning at the college. Meeting foreign kids in this kind of environment is great and you'll always find them so interested to know about you and your country.

That afternoon I had lunch with Ale's family who live about 20 minutes from the centre of Arequipa. We ate what I thought was beef but turned out to be alpaca. This meat is tenderer than veal though I can't bear to think of this friendly mammal as being lunch. Ale's family have quite a zoo in their backyard which consists of two dogs (one of which is a vegetarian who loves to eat carrots), eight budgies, one goose, two ducks, a cat, a parrot and a couple of finches.
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