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Arequipa

Written on: Saturday November 10th, 2007

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Arequipa, Peru

Author: Julie

Hola!

We arrived in Arequipa at 6:30 in the morning after an overnight bus from Cusco. We were supposed to have been here since the day before, but due to my not being able to tell time we had missed our bus. It left at 20:30 and we arrived at the bus station at 10 PM thinking we were early. It turned out to be an expensive mistake when they wouldn?t allow us to carry our 50$ bus tickets over to the next evening.

Arequipa is known as the ?White City? and we discovered why later on in the day after having slept a good 6 hours to recover the loss sleep in the bus. No matter how hard you try, you don?t get restful sleep. My problem is that, although everyone in Peru is shorter than the average person in Canada, the bus seats are still too high to have my feet touch flat. I wake up every hour having to shift to get the blood flow back in my legs. At least the seats are comfortable and recline 30 degrees.

Peru?s second largest city is overlooked by the perfectly cone-shaped volcano El Misti (5822m), by the ragged Mount Chachani (6075m), and by the smaller Mount Pichu Pichu (5571m, meaning Peak Peak in Quechua). Misti is currently inactive but erupted regularly in the 1400s. Its name of ?White City? is from the white volcanic Sillar rock that is used most predominantly as a building material. The city center was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 in recognition of its architecture and historic integrity.

We spent most of the afternoon wandering the street of the city center. If the saying ?All roads lead to Rome? is true, then ?All roads in Arequipa lead to the Plaza de Armas?, for no matter what turn we took we returned to the main plaza. It was okay with us, it is an incredibly beautiful place surrounded with white 2-storied balconied buildings, a stunning neo-renaissance twin-towered cathedral and a large fountain in the middle. It was incredibly busy with people sitting on benches, feeding the pigeons while children ran through and scared the feeding flock. We sat down on the steps of the cathedral for a while, watching the bucolic scene before us and letting the sun warm our skin.

The next day we wandered around the old city again but this time with the goal of pricing out trips to the Colca Canyon. It is considered the world?s deepest canyon with some readings reaching a depth of over 3200 meters. It is possible to do the trek on your own, without a guide and we wanted to see if it was economically feasible before paying for a tour. After speaking with a couple of travel agencies, we returned with long sheet of costs and crunched the numbers. The results were that it would cost us approximately 10 dollars more each but we get the ease of having a guide who knows the trails, accommodations in better cabins, all of our food provided and all our entry fees paid for in advanced. We decided to go with the travel agency Colca Trek which on initial view seemed to be the most expensive but it included everything in its price unlike some others who would charge 50$ per person but then you would have to pay all your entrance fees, food, and transportation costs separately making it more expensive in the long run. As for doing it ourselves, as interested as we were, it just seemed to be a lot less hassle, especially taking into consideration the limited time we had planned for Arequipa. So booked and paid and went to bed early to pack and prepare for our early morning 6 AM pick-up.