Arequipa, Day One

I started our first full day in Arequipa by sleeping in a bit, still trying to recover. Jay and Larry had breakfast together, and I snuck upstairs for some bread and fruit before breakfast ended. We ended up hanging around the hotel for part of the morning – Jay had a family emergency and it was starting to sound like he was going to need to go home early. He finally made the decision to fly home and changed his Delta flight, then we hurried in to town to the LAN office to change his two LAN flights into one going to Lima.

The LAN office was very helpful, much easier than trying to make the changes over the phone. We made sure to go to a LAN office with actual LAN agents, not a travel agent. The change was easy and Larry and I got checked in.

Next on our to-do list was to see a bit more of Arequipa before Jay left. We wanted to see Juanita, the mummy of a 14-year old girl that was sacrificed to quell volcanic activity. I thought I knew where the museum was, so we went to the pre-Andean Museum and paid admission. The museum is situated in a colonial house near the main square with parquet floors and stained glass french doors upstairs. There are ten rooms filled with artifacts – weavings, pottery, weapons, headresses. The weavings are 500 years old, excavated in the 50s, and are still colorful and very much intact.

It turns out that I had the museum wrong (I should not be allowed to make decisions while sick), and Juanita wasn’t at the museum. We figured this out as we entered the last room. Juanita is actually located at the museum of the Catholic University, just down the street, but when we went there we found out she was at the laboratory being cleaned. Oh well.

We had a quick lunch of sandwiches (Larry had a chicken burger) at a little cafe called La Covacha, then went back to the hotel so Jay could get packed up for his flight. After that, we had a little over an hour left, so we took a taxi to the Santa Catalina de Siena Monastery. The Monastery was founded in 1579 and is like a small village behind thick stone walls, with streets and cells where the nuns lived. More than 200 nuns lived there, but now only about 30 live there. In 1972, it opened to the public, but the nuns that live there now remain cloistered and separated from the tourists.

The Monastery has six streets, a square, a cemetery, an art gallery and 80 housing units. Most of the housing units include a place to sleep, a small sitting area, and a small kitchen with a clay oven. Some have small patios as well. We only had a short amount of time there, so we didn’t use a guide, but given the time it’s probably worth it to hire a guide.

We hurried back to the hotel via taxi, and Jay left for the airport. Larry and I napped for the rest of the afternoon, then went out for dinner to Ary Quepay, located in an interesting neighborhood on the outskirts of town. It’s a family-owned, casual restaurant that was pretty empty for a Friday night. We split another palta rellena (stuffed avocado is becoming our favorite thing to eat here), and I had adobo (pork stew) and Larry had the grilled pork shoulder (chancho de plancha, I think). It ended up being a very porky dinner, both were not bad but not great either.

After dinner we wandered about the neighborhood a bit, then caught a cab back to the hotel and turned in for the night.