Greetings from Arequipa!! Once again I am writing about a beautiful day that we experienced in Peru. Arequipa is stunning in every sense of the word. It’s the second largest city in Peru (after Lima) and full of beautiful historical buildings.
This morning we woke up (at 6am) to the sounds of some drunken backpackers hanging out in the pool area…which is right outside of our room. Ahh the life of hostel hopping. We enjoyed our usual cup of coca tea, along with toast, at the hostel. Last night we met a girl who is traveling by herself and is from Canada! We invited her to join us the next day so we met up with her at brekky. We also met two girls from California (one is Jordanian and originally lived in Dubai) and had a lovely chat with them. One of the things I love most about staying in hostels is meeting people from all over.
When we met up with Nicole (the girl from Canada), we made plans for the day. We just discussed a few things we wanted to see and do and decided to wing it…another wonderful thing to do when you travel! We first went to one of the businesses on the street that provides tours…Kat and I signed up for a mountain biking tour to see the volcanoes. Neither one of us has gone biking in awhile, sooooo this should be interesting! But we’re so ready for the adventure! I’m just hoping spin class has prepared my bum for what’s to come!
Unfortunately, we don’t have enough time in Arequipa to see Colca Canyon (it’s a 2 day excursion at least because of how far it is from Arequipa – tours start at 3am btw)…but we actually prefer to do the biking because it’s a new way to see something cool. We also had to decide whether or not we wanted to spend more time there or Lake Titicaca, and we both are SO happy we decided to spend more time on the lake and islands.
After booking the tours (Nicole booked Colca Canyon because she’s here for awhile), we went for a stroll through the city. It really is a magnificent city with beautiful views of El Misti and Chachani- the volcanoes that we will be biking in between. We spent some time in la plaza, walked to a lookout spot to see the volcanoes better and got lunch at a great rooftop restaurant which also had amazing views!
After lunch, we went to el Monasterio de Santa Catalina which is considered one of the most important and impressive colonial structures in the city. And let me tell you, it was. Here’s a little historical background: the convent was founded in 1579 and women entered it to serve as cloistered nuns, never again to return to their homes and families. The nuns constructed private cells within the convent where they could lead isolated lives. There was some damage sustained during the 1958 and 1960 earthquakes, but the monastery was restored and contains a mixture of colonial Spanish and native architectural styles. It was a really cool site to explore. We saw the separate cells the nuns used to sleep in, their chapels within the monastery and all of the beautiful colors throughout, like the Incan blue and deep red. The first room they had us sit in was the visiting room. The nuns would go in there one at a time with another “listening” nun and through the gate they could communicate with their families that came to visit. It was kind of creepy. However, being a nun was an honor for your family…I thought about what I would be doing if I had lived there in that time and, honestly, I probably would have been a nun to make my family proud. A nun’s lifestyle is totally not my style, but at the time what else would I have known? It was just something interesting to think about and to picture myself in that time period.
After our guided tour of the monastery (which was worth every penny because we wouldn’t have had any idea of what was what), we did some exploring on our own and went to the top of the convent to look out upon the volcanoes. It was beautiful.
We also did a little trip to el super mercado tonight! The fruit and veggie section was amazeballs…things I have never seen before! We grabbed a couple new fruits to try tomorrow…stay tuned for that update!
It’s finally warm enough here and we were able to treat ourselves to some gelato tonight. So yum! Tomorrow we are up early to get crazy on our mountain biking adventure!! Sweet baby Jesus let’s hope we make it!