Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Saturday, February 06, 2010


We took the night bus from Nazca to Arequipa, sleeping on the bus. Leaving at 10 PM, arriving at 7 AM the next day was a tough night. I cannot sleep well on a bus, no matter what seat I sit in, no seat is made for my height. Even first class seats are only marginally better. All transportation seats are made for Joe Doe, who is 170 lbs, 5.10, with short legs. We got off the bus and again Francis had it down pat, we had a pick up, Jenny was there to take us to our Hostel, Hostel Bolivar. Jenny also arranged for a city tour of Arequipa and a 2-day tour starting the next day to see the Colca Canyon, known as the deepest canyon in the world and which contains a sanctuary for the condors, a bird with a wing span of 3 meters.
There is not much to say about Arequipa, a nice city with a comfortable feel, very clean compared to other Peruvian cities, a city with many buildings made in the Spanish Colonial style and built using volcanic stones (sillar) that are a very light gray, so from far away those buildings look white, hence the name, The White City of Arequipa.
The city tour was disappointing since after spending about 3 hours on a tour bus I can hardly recall a thing. Some of the guides spoke a difficult to understand Spanglish. We saw some areas that were once famous but today contain slums, we saw the house of the founder of Arequipa but the house got lost in the slums surrounding it. Arriving at a point of interest along with 10 other tour buses is not my way of learning something. I hated it. To see a ranch where you can ride a horse and all the horses look mistreated, sickly, and are only skin and bones, is not my thing and I hate it. I did not like the city tour. Arequipa itself is a nice enough town. The city tour is a waste of money and time.
One good and interesting experience, not a part of the city tour but separate experience we did on our own would actually even be better for all my religious friends. We visited a large monastery which still operates today. Young ladies, in the tradition of the Spanish, were given the chance to become nuns and learn the ways of the Catholic faith. Some, after years of indoctrination, took the vow and became Benedictines, others left to become devoted wives to the colonial elite. All this religion was planned and supported in the good Catholic way. I am not religious but I can feel the intense devotion oozing out of this monastery, even today. This monastery is an old building complex, very large, built for many young women but now housing only 18 nuns and novitiates. We saw the Spartan living quarters for the devout and the place is interesting and even a bit romantic in some ways. It was a nice place to visit but I would never want to live this way.

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