Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Arequipa Day 2

Unfortunately, I hadn't counted on the effects of the altitude (2325m above sea level, I believe) which knocked me out for the best part of the day yesterday! I managed to lose the keys to our luggage in my woozy state, too... (I think the hotel was a bit suspicious of us when we asked for some pliers to break the locks!) But I felt fine after a sleep, an anti-nausea/dizziness pill and vast quantities of mate de coca (special coca leaf tea) however 'soroche' had claimed the daylight hours. So, we had a relaxing evening and were up early today. We explored the Santa Catalina Monastery, which is actually an ancient nunnery, and is vastly intriguing. The high altitude gives the sunlight here a real luminous quality, and this enhances the beauty of Santa Catalina no end, as all the walls are built from the volcanic rock 'sillar' and painted gorgeous bright blues and terracottas and yellows. There are flowers everywhere, and multitudinous nooks and crannies to poke your nose into. It's like a little city within a city, and you can't help thinking the nuns led an eviable life - what with their private quarters, servants, special guests and secret parties. I wanted to go mad taking pictures, but we don't have a proper camera now, so I'll wait 'til the next time we visit Peru! After the nunnery we went to the museum to try to see Juanita. She is the sacrificed Inca girl stumbled across quite by accident by a mountaineer. She was frozen in perfect form, and was only unearthed due to the hot ashes falling from an active volcano next door. The mountaineer was trying to take photos of the volcano when he noticed a foot sticking out! He lugged the corpse down the mountain and presented to a university in Arequipa, who were rather pleased to say the least. Juanita's discovery led to the discovery of several other very well preserved, young female sacrifices... another of whom, Sarita, is currently on display in a rather chilly ice box. Good job, too, as Juanita is off being researched so we didn't actually get to see her. Anyhow, a Cathedral and few churches and some jumbo shrimp for lunch/supper (why isn't there a word for that? sunch? lupper?) and we're now off to Puno and Lake Titicaca...

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