Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

We left Puno about 3 pm and headed for Arequipa, aka The White City.

This time we took a cheaper bus for the 5 hour ride. It was a little different, for one, it was completely full of locals - which was neat I thought. We had to drive north of Puno to a place called Juliaca. Now I havenīt seen every city on Earth but if I had to guess, I would say Juliaca is basically the garbage can of the world. I canīt really describe it any better than that. It was a good thing we didnīt have to get off the bus. So, we first stopped at the bus station there for about 15 minutes, then we were off.  However, about 10 minutes after the bus started moving we ended up back at the same bus stop but this time facing the opposite direction (only after a small traffic jam caused by a herd of cattle in the middle of the city street.  This small little woman was trying to guide them to the meat market we guessed - what a sight). So again we sat at the same bus station for another 15 minutes while more people got on. Finally, all the locals were on and we were off for good.  It was a 5 hour ride. We couldnīt sleep because we were going through a high Andean mountain pass and swaying back and forth.  It was mostly empty mountain desert terrain but it was some of the most gorgeous country side I have ever seen. We didnīt get any movies or any food but we got a beautiful desert sunset.  Also, it was one of those nights when the moon completely lights up everything and itīs almost like the sun it out. It was a pretty nice ride (after leaving Jaliaca of course).  And I'm proud to say I didn't use the potty once - I held it the whole time!  <shoulder slap>  Brian on the other hand didn't have a choice.  As soon as the bus started moving the bathroom light turned on to occupied.  It stayed on for about 2 hours!!!  Brian went down after that and came back with a headache (smelly) so I decided to it wasn't for me.

Once in Arequipa, we got a cab and went to the hostel we had picked out- hoping they had a room for us. Yep, they did and got a fairly nice one too.

Arequipa is a great city with lots of history. It has beautiful colonial buildings with massive snow capped volcanoes in the backdrop, and lots of nice plazas (parks), etc. We mainly needed to stay here a few nights to catch up on some sleep and I needed to do some blogging. There is a great bar scene here thatīs pretty fun. Last night we went out after dinner - itīs so fun to see the locals out and about. It kind of reminded us of the Ped Mall in Iowa City but we have never seen so many police in one spot before. We second guessed ourselves before entering the bar. But of course, everything was fine.  I got a pretty good laugh at one bar as I noticed their decor on the walls were pictures of famous people - famous people from the USA - famous people like Christina Applegate from her early years on Married with Children.  It was so funny.  Why would a bar in Peru have pictures of Christina Applegate from 1990??? 

We have eaten at a lot of nice places so far in Peru. We ate at a restaurant the other day that was on top of a 3 story building looking right over the Plaza de Armas and had great views of Mt Misti (a 20k ft volcano). And we had pizza (again) but it was mucho delicious.

We went to a very interesting Inca museum that was dedicated to Juanita, the Inca Ice Madian Princess.  Thanks to a glacier, after being sacrificed atop an Andean mountain peak 600 years ago, her body is still completely intact and preserved, even her hair, skin and internal organs.  It was an amazing site to see in person.  I hope I look that good in 600 years!  It was kind of a funny experience in the museum though because they had the lights dimmed so low to preserve all the artifacts, etc. that I literally could not see half of the items on display.  No joking.  I wish I had brought a flashlight.  I was bending over so close to the glass boxes that I almost hit my head a few times on them.  That would have been a good way to introduce myself to the group.

Arequipa is the Peruvian city of love, so we say.  After walking through a large park with a local festival (which was full of monkeys, turtles, llamas, birds - even a HAWKEYE, and also cross dressers entertaining children), we came across many young couples showing more than the usual PDA.  I would say it was PG-13 material.  If it had been dark out, maybe even R rated!  And because of that we weren't surprised to see SO many women pregnant walking around the city. 

Arequipa was a great city and we were happy to spend a couple days relaxing with the locals.  Oh and as the title says, no one here spoke English.  There was American music everywhere, American TV shows on, American stores and one speaks English.  I must say though, it makes the experience that much better.  It actually is fun to try and use our Spanish skills.  We are spoiled when everyone speaks Spanish and don't challenge ourselves enough to use it - so it was pretty fun!  
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