Wednesday, March 21
“Llovizna en Arequipa”, that’s what the pilot told us half an hour before landing. Gentle rainfall? Hm ….. I stepped out of the plane and splash … huge puddle. Completely wet feet. Good or bad that I was very sandals?
Small airport and my backpack showed up as one of the first pieces of luggage. Great. Next challenge: Taxi to the city centre without being ripped off. 30 Soles for 8km? No way, guys, not after 8 months in Lima. We came to an agreement, 20 Soles sounded ok. Feet still wet. Never mind, I don’t easily get sick.
My AirBnB turned out to be a mini-hostel and I loved it. Very friendly owners. Breakfast for 10 Soles and a complete menu for lunch for 11 Soles. Not to mentioned the great wi-fi which never caused me any problems.
Thursday, March 22 – Getting lost in Arequipa
Arequipeños weren’t very imaginative when choosing the names for their streets. They have various streets with the same name in their beautiful city and that turned out to be a pitfall for me.
I’m very old-fashioned, I check directions before I leave and then know by heart where to go. However, this time, something seemed to be wrong. I asked someone how to get to Plaza de Armas and eventually got there without any more problems. On the way back, everything went well until I arrived at Avenida Lima where my hostel was supposed to me. The whole area looked totally unfamiliar and I was really confused. I even checked GoogleMaps on my mobile (very unusual for me). However, it also said Avenida Lima. Well, after talking to some people, it finally turned out that I was in the wrong neighbourhood. My Avenida Lima was a 30-minutes walk away.
Saturday, March 24
Visiting the Museo Santuario Andinos and being told the stories of the girls which were killed by Incas as an offering to their gods, made me once again become aware how cruel people can be and how dangerous superstition is. Where does this derive from that people from places all around the world believed and believe in gods who demand some kind of sacrifice? I just don’t get it. If I were to believe in a god, it would be a guiding and peaceful one. Well, humankind is difficult to understand.
Tuesday, March 27
Mario Vargas Llosa, Peru’s most famous author and winner of the Nobel Prize of Literature (2010) was born in Arequipa and the house where he spent the first year of his life. Together with Isabel Allende from Chile, Mario Vargas Llosa has been my favourite author for decades, so it was clear that I had to visit the museum. It’s actually a little funny that someone who is still alive already has a museum :-).
Thursday, March 29
Today, I had the whole day off. Not voluntarily but sometimes, it simply happens that nobody books a lesson. My earnings for the second half of March were totally all right, though and therefore, I just enjoyed the day. I visited the Santa Catalina Monastery and joined a guided tour with a guy from Spain and two women from Chile.
Thursday/Friday, April 5/6
The tour to the Colca Valley was definitely the highlight of my three weeks in Arequipa. As I wrote a long article about it, I’m not going to repeat everything here. I’d just like to mention that it was a good experience to do this tour with an American acquaintance from Lima and all in all, our group was very nice. Well, and if you’ve never been to the Andes, just do it. The landscape is incredible and the mountains are really majestic. A non-adventurous jungle tour should probably be my next goal.
Impressions of Arequipa
People tend to ask me how I liked a certain city or if I could imagine living there. Arequipa is nice and felt safe and staying here for three weeks was absolutely all right. I’d always return for a shorter visit. However, it’s not a place where I’d like to live. Compared to Lima, it’s rather quiet, even in the city centre. Yes, taxi drivers also honk here and people approach you trying to sell something around Plaza de Armas but that’s all rather harmless. I guess I’d simply get bored in Arequipa after a while. Ok, I have to admit that this is a problem I have everywhere and why this blog is called Corazón Gitano :-).
What I loved most about Arequipa were probably the numerous courtyard cafés and restaurants. I’m not a foodie, so if I have to choose between a nice surrounding and a special food experience, I prefer the nice surrounding and choose something simple and not too expensive to eat I’m already familiar with.
One thing was a real nuisance: The sidewalks in the city centre are really slippery. More than once, I was close to landing on my butt!
When I booked the flight to Arequipa, I had just meant to take a break from Lima for a couple of weeks and see a bit more of Peru. However, it already became clear before heading here that I would not live in Lima as I had planned it when I returned to Peru in January. At the moment, I’m not even sure anymore whether I really want to have my residency in Peru. At the moment, I like the idea of travelling around freely without having to spend 6 months a year in Peru much better. I’m aware that not being a resident of any country has its disadvantages, too. I’ll be in Lima again for another month and within that timeframe, I’ll take a final decision.
As I don’t like selfies (and am not even able to take them), I always rely on others to take pictures of me and sometimes, I’m just not in the mood to approach strangers. So no pics from Arequipa but here are those which my travel mates kindly took while doing the Colca Valley tour.