The White City

Trip Start Mar 12, 2012
Trip End Jul 10, 2012

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Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, June 4, 2012

Sounds like something from Lord of the Rings doesn't it? But Arequipa is actually known as the white city, due to all the white stonework you see there. I have to admit, I did fall a bit in love with Arequipa. It's clean, pretty, with lovely shops and cafes, and surrounded by volcanoes and mountains. Plus I stayed in the best hostel there which made it even better. There have been a few times in my trip where I just feel so tired, and don't want to do anything but relax, and my time in Arequipa was one of them. It was the perfect place to do that. The hostel was laid back and homely, where I could sit and watch movies in the TV room every evening, and sleep in the hammocks in the garden during the day. I found a cute little cafe in the Plaza de Armas where I went and had chocolate sundaes and lunch. I wondered around the city, and just focused on getting myself better. I decided to try and do some horse riding while I was there, as it would be the last chance I got. So the girl at reception tried to find me somewhere, and eventually found a 'companu' to take me. They had no other bookings, so I was by myself, which meant I had to pay more, but I thought it would be worth it. Ha! How very wrong I was.

It was bad for sooo many reasons. The guide was terrible, he could barely ride himself. We had another guy with us to look after the horses who was riding a yearling (i.e a horse too young to be ridden). We didn't have helmets and then they took me out onto a main road which was sooo busy with taxis and lorries and buses whizzing past. And my horse wasn't comfortable being there, and I had to ride it really carefully to keep it from freaking out. At least I can ride, if I was a beginner I probably would have been crying. Then we rode up a steep hill, which was paved in smooth stone, so the horses were slipping on it. I was worried my horse would go down, and take me with it. Then we just rode along a horrible dirt rode for an hour. My horse kept shying at everything and refusing to go because it was scared. The 'guide' never spoke a word, and I had to ride in front and lead the way, even though I didn't know where I was going. Then I noticed my horse had a shoe loose, which is dangerous, and I shouldn't have been riding it. And finally we were heading back, and came back to the main road. I told the guide to go ahead of me, as I didn't want to be riding in front. Then suddenly there was this loud bang like a gunshot, or a car exhaust or something, and my horse freaked out. I wasn't on the actual road yet, so calmed him down. The horse guy got off and held it till it was calmer, then sent me out onto the road. Just as I was in the middle of it, this noise went off again, and of course, the horse freaked out again, and almost went into a car. But I managed to keep it quite still, and then I got the horse guy to lead me along the road, as I wasn't going to risk it freaking out again and me getting killed! 

So not very good, and frankly extremely dangerous. I told the hostel not to use them again, I hope they take my advice! But I survived, thanks to my riding skills (those lessons paid off) and the fact I didn't panic. But god knows if I hadn't been able to ride I probably would have been thrown off and killed! Anyway, I'm alive luckily!

That evening I was supposed to get a night bus to Lima. So I had all my bags packed, and the girls at reception booked me a taxi. So I waited, and waited, and waited. The taxi never showed up. It got to the time where I was supposed to be at the bus station, and the reception girls decided to run out on the street to find me a taxi. But it was deserted. There was a big football match on, and they thought that's where all the taxi's were! I eventually told them to give up, as the bus would be leaving in a few minutes anyway. I then had to go to the bus station and try and get them to transfer my ticket to a later bus, but they wouldn't, and they wouldn't refund it either. So it was back to the hostel for another night and day, before finally getting the bus the next day.
I made it to Lima after a 17 hour bus ride. Did have 2 seats to myself till some randomer came and asked to sit down, then stayed there the entire journey, even though it wasn't his seat! Then had the cheek to give me his number and email when we got off, even though I barely spoke to him! Ugh, South American men... But I was not thrilled by Lima when I arrived. It was grey, pretty ugly, and I just didn't get good vibes from it. 

I got to my hostel, and it was pretty rubbish. The bathroom was really dirty, but I was just glad to have a hot shower. I missed my last hostel which was lovely! Ventured down to the sea front, and went to this 'Park Amor', all designed around love, which lots of mosaics and a huge statue of a kissing couple. Hmmm, not so great when you're all alone. Looked down at the beach from the cliff top, but it looked pretty grim, so I didn't bother walking down, as I had to stuff to do instead.

And that was pretty much my experience of Lima. I flew out to San Francisco the next morning, and left Peru and South America behind. Wow, what a short but sweet part of my journey. A complete step out of my comfort zone, but well worth it. It's a really amazing place, I think everyone should go there. I saw some truly beautiful places, and met some fantastic people too. It was just brilliant. And I have to say, I'm actually pretty proud of myself. Everyone said, 'ooh, you're going to South America by yourself? Are you sure that's safe? Are you going to be able to handle it?' But I did. I didn't get mugged, attacked, rabies, lost, sick, raped,  or sold to a drugs gang....I was fine! So I actually gave myself a bit of praise when I left, cause that's something I'm really proud of. Another end to another part of my journey. It's going so quickly I can hardly believe it! 
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