On My Own
Trip Start Sep 08, 2012
27Trip End Nov 27, 2012
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The Casa de Avila was recommended to me by two Canucks I met on the Lake Titicaca Islands tour. I had my own room and private shower for a pretty great price; there was even wifi in the room! The only downfall was there was no kitchen access in the evening which meant trying to find reasonably priced food in the Plaza de Armas. After wandering around looking for places recommended by the guide book, I ended up finding a pizza place that was actually still in existence. It was not my top preference but the other options listed did not seem to be where the book said they were. I concluded pizza was what made me very ill in Cusco, but decided to risk it since I was about to turn into an angry leprechaun (something akin to what happens when you feed a Mogwai after midnight, only I needed to eat BEFORE the clock struck twelve). The pizza place was really mellow and featured a traditional cement oven to bake the pies in. I knew everything would be OK when I dialed into the Dire Straights live album playing in the background. I turned out to be correct on all counts and the pizza was definitely OK.
Arequipa is Peru's second largest city and is the launching point for most Colca Canyon tours. Colca Canyon is considered to be the second deepest canyon in the world with its neighbor Cotahuasi being the deepest (Grand Canyon is the third). I considered forking over the cash for the standard Colca tour (3 days, 2 nights) but decided it would be better to investigate climbing Misti instead. Misti and Chachani are are just out side of the city and are very, very high (Misti: 19,101 ft, Chachani: 19,931ft). Both appealed to my mountain soul but Misti is a bit of an 'easier' climb
I went on the hunt for a good guide service for Misti and found one that went so far as to give me a 20 sole discount. In the end, I decided against it since I had my fair share of elevation gain and loss already (2,000 ft down only to go 7,000 ft in one day on our trek). Plus it will be a good reason to come back... I'm just mountain climbing window shopping right now. Although, I hear there's a "walk up" just outside of Quito I may attempt next month. And there's still exploring to be done in Huaraz.
Arequipa became more about finding my solo travel legs than about climbing mountains, not what I originally thought. My spiritual journey in Arequipa consisted of an ordinary day wandering into a bookstore and finding a really beat up copy of the Dalai Lama's Ancient Wisdom, Modern World in the book exchange section. I didn't have a book to exchange or enough money to buy it outright (the bookstore lady also refused to change a 100 soles). I went seeking for change at the Museo de Arte Virreinal de Santa Teresa. I figured since 'Teresa' was my Confirmation name, I would be in luck changing the 100 soles and get to see the Monastery. Thankfully, I was able able to do both. Win!
Santa Teresa was only recently opened to the public to help financially support the cloistered nuns who live inside
After the tour, I headed back to purchase the book and close out the day with a late lunch at a local vegetarian restaurant. I had veggie chicharron (not sure if it was TVP or soy) which I never expected I would find. Hey Rhy- there's at least one place you can eat at in Peru. HA! All in all, my time in Arequipa was enjoyable and I even got to see Juanita, the Ampato Ice Maiden at the Museo Santuarios Andinos. This was one of the coolest sights I've seen. Juanita was discovered in 1995 and is said to have been between the ages of 11-15 at her death. She is technically a well preserved body and NOT a mummy- as her insides remained in tact. It was oddly fascinating to see a frozen person that lived around the mid to late 1400s. Even more fascinating was standing next to the highly temperature controlled glass contraption that kept her so well preserved. It was a real treat considering she's rarely 'home' these days; she's a world traveler too.
So in honor of now traveling solo and trying to live life to the fullest, here's a brief list of some of the neat new things I've tried:
Cuy ( guinea pig)
Chica morada (purple corn drink)
Cusceņa malta - really good beer!
Peruvian hot chocolate
Choclo con queso (corn with cheese)
Peruvian quinoa soup and smoothie
Onwards and upwards!
Thanks for reading!
Alchemy: Dire Straits Live