Southern Peru-Bolivia

Day 04 - Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - Walking Tour of Arequipa; Santa Catalina Monastery; San Camilo Market; Plaza de Armas; Dinner on Our Own

Arequipa Altitude: 2,335 m (7,661 ft)

We had a leisurely breakfast and then met our group at 9:00 to join Beatriz, our local guide for a walk around Arequipa. She spent the first few minutes telling us about the history of the city and the 300 days of clear blue skies.

It was 69 degrees but felt much hotter in the sun. The humidity was only 17%. The climate is very much like Colorado with warm days and cooler nights.

We walked right across the street from our hotel to the Santa Catalina Monastery. This convent was built in the 15th century and housed wealthy Spanish women. Usually, the second daughter was the one chosen to learn to read, write, and sew in this religious environment.

As we walked around the beautiful gardens and stunning architecture, we could only imagine the life of these young women. Fountains, fruit trees, flowering trees, and gardens of colorful geraniums gave the monastery a feel of luxury, not penance.

The former infirmary now houses the museum of all of the artifacts from the years of affluent Spanish families. There were candles, richly decorated statues, silver icons; all purchased by wealthy families to give to their daughters who lived in the convent.

Leaving the convent at 10:30, we walked back to the city center and Plaza de Armas. Beatriz explained that the first Spanish settlers in the city saw this as the hub of the city and where the cathedral should be built.

The original church was destroyed by fire in 1847 and then in 2001, a serious earthquake damaged much of the church including the left bell tower. Rebuilt now, the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa did not open until 5:00 PM, so we did not get to go inside.

We continued to the Iglesia de la Compañía Church, with symbolic carvings in the soft volcanic ash stone. We were able to go into the church and take pictures everywhere but the ornate chapel, the most impressive part of this Jesuit edifice.

Our walk continued to the city market, San Camilo Market, a working market for local foods. There is a supermarket on Plaza de Armas, but most people prefer the fresh food; fruits, vegetables and meats they can buy at the city market.

Beatriz bought us a special celebration bread called Guagua, a tradition to bring to mothers of newborn babies. She also let us try a very unique fruit called Pepino Melon that tasted like a melon and pear, very sweet and delicious.

After our tour, we walked back to the hotel and thanked Beatriz. We had a few minutes to go to our room and store our purchases from the market. At 1:00 we walked to a restaurant, only a few blocks away. At La Trattoria del Monasterio we had another traditional meal, typical of the food served in the homes in Arequipa.

Although the itinerary said we were to have a free afternoon, at 3:00 Pepé organized an excursion to Mundo Alpaca, or Alpaca World where we saw the whole process of weaving the fine wool from llamas, alpacas, guanaco, and vicuña.

Our guide, Margerie, told us about the relationship between the four camel cousins of South America, the way the wool is gathered, then cleaned and spun, and finally woven into high quality fabric. We were able to feed some alfalfa to the critters that were on display at the Alpaca Center.

We walked back to our hotel and then on to the grocery store to buy a few bottles of soda and Gatorade for our long bus ride to Colca Canyon tomorrow. As we are going out into the middle of nowhere, we will bring our own snacks and prepare for another serious rise in altitude.

Gennie bought a few post cards but stamps are very hard to find. The lady at the desk agreed to add stamps and mail them for us. We came back to the hotel and Vic climbed to the top of the hotel to get a good view of the volcanoes and see more of the city from above.

After working on the journal and the photos, we had a light snack of fruit and prepared for a travel day tomorrow.

Accommodations: Hotel San Agustin Posada del Monasterio --- Meals: B L

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Southern Peru & Bolivia: Inca Landscapes & Lake Titicaca


You and Gennie look great!!! Keep journeling!! I love following you.

Hazel   November 6, 2014 - 2:14pm

Another wonderful account and the pictures . . . awesome

Dee   October 30, 2014 - 6:35pm

How totally interesting. I didn't realize there were so many kinds of Potatoes. To watch the process of taking wool and making into cloth or material-- that would have caught my attention!. Sleep well.

pat   October 30, 2014 - 3:05am
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Mundo Alpaca - Learning About the Alpaca Wool Process

Mundo Alpaca - Learning About the Alpaca Wool Process (1:45)

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Santa Catalina Monastery

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