Yesterday we wandered around Arequipa; partially to check out the town and partially because neither Barb nor I are terribly spatially aware and the streets are tiny and ancient and tend to change names every 50 meters or so... We saw several nice churches; lots of gold leaf and lots of bleeding subjects, then we went on a city walking tour of 2 hours, which wound up lasting about 4 hours... It was interesting, we saw where the original city was "founded" in 15 something by Spaniards. I am sure that the local population was glad to have been discovered at last, but it doesn't look like it turned out that way... Toured a llama farm and learned the intricacies of llama vs alpaca vs vicuna. Some amazing weavings were being done by local native women. The shop had many wonderful things at astronomic prices (which I am sure were not passes to the local weavers, sigh). We ended up on a rooftop overlooking the Plaza; sipping Pisco (too fiery for me; it tasted rather like Grappa) but it was lovely and warm.
Today we took a tour through the Colca Canyon; which means that we had to be ready to go at 3:30 am (ugh). Then for some reason, they actually arrived at 3:10 and were rather cranky that we were not ready to go, bright eyed and bushy tailed... In fact I felt decidedly not bright eyed much of the day, although I cannot account for tail bushiness. The canyon twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, but somehow less visually impressive and it is quite green; signs of old terraced farms, but we got to see three condors soaring through the updrafts; which was pretty amazing. They think only 38 are left in the wild here. They also let us stop at some areas where local people supposedly were selling their wares, but I noticed that each place had identical items, with embroidery which I swear I have seen in Viet Nam, the Philippines and China, which I find a bit suspicious.
We have walked these streets finding our way, or not, but enjoying the serendipitous discovery of a piece of history or a good café. The traffic is amazing, lines and lines of cars that perform a ballet when merging or moving from one lane to another. Horns are used extensively, a language that the drivers and pedestrians all understand and respond to. When we need to cross a street we look both ways, find an opening, gird our loins and proceed. The walking tour was very pleasant with our blue haired tour guide, Ramon and a family of four from Argentina. At the end of the tour we ended on a rooftop overlooking the Plaza de Armes in the early evening. A beautiful view. As we descended the stairs we were met by an intense man, Chef Bustamante, who escorted us to his kitchen and expounded on his traditional Peruvian cooking where each recipe has it's own clay pot and wooden utensil devoted to it's exclusive use. He also informed us that somehow Seattle and Mt Rainier are part of the remnants of Atlantis. Like I said, very intense. We were glad to escape without having dinner with him and enjoyed a glass of straight Pisco sour to finish the evening.
Today, we signed up for a tour, leaving at 3:30am to see the volcanic peaks at sunrise. It was friggin cold and the clouds obscured the Volcanic peaks that surround Arequipa. the rest of the day was nice. It was lovely seeing condors and the geology of the area was incredible. Everywhere you looked is evidence of volcanic outflow and then the effect of water creating deep canyons. The mountain and hillsides were covered with
stone terraces centuries old. It was really beautiful