Thursday August 29, 2013
Our next stop along the way our travels through Peru was Arequipa. We actually never originally had any intent on going here, but it turns out it was cheaper to buy a bus ticket going from Nazca to this very southern town in Peru and then on to Cusco, than buying a direct ticket from Nazca to Cusco. Can you guess which side won? The bus ride to this town we had never planned on visiting, happened to be a little adventure in itself. Taking our first overnight trip on one, to save on the cost of a room of course, we thought we had it made by being placed in the very front seats on the second level, directly in front of the large glass windows that make you feel like you’re on some kind of amusement park ride. Then we realized that A.) It was dark, and therefore there was nothing to see out of those windows. and B.) Shortly after we boarded, the stewards made us close the curtains in front of the window anyway for security reasons. (I guess it’s not uncommon for buses to get robbed at night if it’s apparent they’re full of people)
We were about to sit back and try and get some shut-eye when the staff also decided that 10:30 at night was a perfect time to serve us our dinner. One that we weren’t even expecting, so it was our second of the night. Normally I can easily get on board with a little extra food, but it seems they don’t think it’s necessary for that front row of seats to come equipped with trays to put that food on, so we sat trying to balance our food and drinks (in open Dixie cups, mind you) as our bus bounced and swerved through the winding roads and into the mountains. It felt like I was on another kind of amusement park ride where I’d win a prize just for getting the food in my mouth.
When the bus dropped us off in Arequipa at 7 the next morning, our eyes were drooping like we had barely gotten a wink of sleep. Stuffing our bags into a taxi, which we found are much cheaper outside of Lima and you can usually negotiate a $1-2 ride out of them, we were brought to our hostel which thankfully let us check in right away due to low vacancy, and we crashed on our separate bunks until noon. Unfortunately for us though, our extra shut-eye also meant that we missed out on the Free Walking Tour about town, which we had seen advertised in the office when we were checking in. Looks like it was up to us to see what Arequipa had to offer.
Pulling out our trusty Peru guidebook once more (which was lent to us by Luis and has already become invaluable on this trip) we found directions to the town’s Plaza de Armas and made our way over there. If I thought we were impressed by the one in Lima, we were really impressed by the one here in Arequipa. Most of the buildings were made out of white volcanic stone, with two stories of arched balconies and walkways, and looming over all of it was Mt. Misti, a 19,000 ft active volcano. For minutes we stood there in awe of our surroundings of the buildings surrounding us, and then took a moment to stand in awe of all the thousands of pigeons surrounding us at our feet. The square was absolutely full of them and it was hard not to step on them as you walked.
Strolling through the just as beautiful and picturesque side streets, we walked the Old Town from one side to the other. While on the hunt for food we saw a woman selling goods just outside of a church, and guess what she had? Yup, llama gloves! After our freezing cold day in Lima, Matt couldn’t deny that he didn’t need them any longer and we each picked out a pair to carry for the rest of our travels. Believe me, they will be needed back at the boat as well. Throw in a llama hat as well for Matt (I was smart enough to bring one with me), and we were all set to handle any more cold Peruvian weather thrown at us.
After our awesome knit llama goods score, we stopped into an upscale bar with nice views of Misti. We treated ourselves to a pitcher of sangria and found out from our server that if you spent X amount of dollars, or whatever our pitcher ended up being, that you received a free pisco sour. It turned into a very happy hour indeed.
A little worn out and not sure what else to look at, we made our way back to the Plaza de Armas after our drinks. Mostly though, I had just wanted to feed the pigeons. And once I’ve had two glasses of sangria and a pisco sour, there’s really no shutting me up until I get what I want. So back to the square we went, where we paid $0.40 for a bag of bird seed and had the time of our lives for the next thirty minutes as we tossed the food around, and eventually just kept it in our hands to let the birds come to us.
After that it was back to the hostel for a little relaxing. It feels like we’ve been cramming so much in to the past few weeks that we haven’t had time to just sit. We took a few new side streets as the sun was going down, so early here at 5:30!, and caught the last few minutes of an amazing sunset from the roof of our hostel.
Today we decided to keep it really simple and keep the theme of relaxing continuing on. We took turns between sitting in the Plaza de Armas, sometimes scrolling through books on our e-readers, and sometimes watching the crowds of people pass by; and also trying to tour a few of the streets that we never made it to yesterday. All in all, it was a pretty chill day of doing absolutely nothing. And I was completely fine with that. If there has been one place to just stop and take in the views, this is it.