Well we made it to Arequipa, after a bus ride of it turns out 19 hours - it was a very comfortable bus, but ugh! Barb and I spent some time watching American films badly dubbed into Spanish with English subtitles and eventually without sound. It is so odd to see familiar actors sounding so differently than expected. We spend quite a bit of time discussing possible plots and concepts gone astray...
Arequipa is lovely; built out of the local volcanic stone, which is white in color, so much of the old city is white, with bold accent colors. The food has been great; French crepes and croissants for breakfast, and I am personally hoping to eat some cuy (guinea pig; a Peruvian delicacy)! We shall see.
We visited the Monsterio de Santa Catarina, which oddly to me has been a convent here since 1579. Shouldn't it be a convent not a monastery then??? It only opened to the public in 1970. Beautiful Spanish architecture with many arches and an interesting tour from an excellent English speaking guide. The nuns have a little café serving tea, coffee and handmade desserts. (I had chocolate cake, which I noticed was NOT called devil's food cake...but was delicious!)
Yes, the bus trip was long. After dark it felt like we were on a jet in turbulence, for hours. Very disconcerting. "Bad Times at the El Royal" will forever live in my mind, not in a good way. Listed as a comedy, reading the subtitles and trying to make sense of the violence, it has crept into our conversation throughout the day. Why, why, why? Watch it and tell us what you think of it. It's only on vacation that we have time to do this.
We are staying at a lovely Hotel called Hostel Bubarama (ladybug) in the historic district. Lovely proprietors (Venezuelan) who are excellent with advice and directions. As Barb mentioned, the convent tour was filled with interesting data. The daughters were given to the convent (1) as second born from Spanish families at age 12 with dowries and a servant to tend to their needs, or (2) poor native woman who provided the energy to feed everyone and take care of the 4 acre household. The gardens were lovely, one avocado tree estimated to be 200 years old. We strolled though town and selected a place for dinner. It was our night to try Cui. So along with an ok bottle of Peruvian Cab we shared a dinner of Cui, potatoes and salad. They do make excellent salads here. The Cui, soso. Not much meat and pretty fatty. Today we are siting in a café overlooking the Plaza de Armas writing and plotting our next couple of days. We are touring tomorrow leaving at 3:30AM to hopefully catch the Condors soaring and hike some trails and see some petroglyphs. We are at 2350 meters elevation travelling in two days to Puno at 3830.
Surrounding the city are three mountains, beautiful shapes, covered in snow. It reminds me that most of the buildings in this city are constructed of volcanic rocks and the city has a history of earthquakes. Weather is blue sky, in the upper 60's. Very comfortable. I hope that you are all surviving the snowmeggedon that we are hearing about.