15 Jul 07- Machanga, Ecuador to Trujillo, Peru
“The Ecuador-Peru border crossing was one of the worst, if not the worst. The markets block the street entrance to the bridge, so I had to drive around it. Plus, it being Sunday, most of the shops, including photocopy places, were closed for the day. To make matters worse, they were saying even the Aduana (Customs) is closed for today! And that place is 3 kilometers away from Immigration point for Ecuador to exit! So I passed the immigration exit checkpoint for Ecuador, and hired some dude that spoke good enough English that he could understand me.
So I know this guy is trying to cheat me somehow. He talks to some dude, who says that since Aduana for Ecuador is not open, he can get me entrance to Peru without exit papers from Ecuador for $50. At least that’s what he said in Spanish. Then Jose, the guy I hired, turns around and says to me in English, ‘he wants $75.'”
17 Jul 07 – Lima to Nazca
“I drove about 300 miles from Lima to Nazca to do one of those things you have to do when you’re in Peru: fly over the Nazca lines. I get in at about 1PM, and I’m hopelessly going around to the airport, trying to find an agency that would take me. I go through 3 of them and all of them say I have to wait until tomorrow. Except this one called S.R.L. “When can I leave?” I ask. “RIGHT NOW!” They literally meant right then and there. Without even filling out the paperwork, I quickly pay her about 130 soles ($45) and board the plane where two guys are patiently waiting for me.”
“The pilot’s name is Alex, and he gives us quick instructions. There are bags in case we get airsick. He will climb up and show us the lines from one side of the plane, then turn around to the other side. He will do this for all 12 symbols that we’re going to see today.”
Monkey. All of this looks really large in these pictures, but I zoomed in 5X and took several pictures that were nowhere close to these lines. I pretty much estimated where it would be with my camera because it wouldn’t show on the screen.
Astronaut. This one is particularly interesting. According to people I’ve talked to, this same astronaut figure (in Nazca, Peru) can be found in one of the tombs in Palenque, Mexico. Which is odd, obviously, because of the thousands of miles that they’re separated by. But it’s still more so interesting because the indigenous people of Cuzco, Peru (which is about 400 miles away from the Nazca lines) look like and wear clothing that strongly resemble the indigenous people of Chichicastenango, Guatemala, which is about 300 miles away from Palenque, Mexico.
“I was somewhat disappointed by the Nazca lines. Although there is that mystery factor, it’s somewhat hard to see and a lot smaller than I thought. Perhaps we were too far high up? The only one that was especially distinct because of the color of the sand it was drawn on was the hummingbird. That one was pretty cool.”
Tree on the left, Hand on the right.
“I go to a mechanic. His name’s Juan, and he changes my oil and fuel filters for me. It costs me about $25, but it’s not too bad considering all the oil he had to use up for the big engine. His wife stutters in Spanish that I’m stupid for driving so far down by myself. I understand her and tell her that I’m not stupid, just a little crazy. She laughs and responds, just a little bit? We talk a bit about where I’m from and all that, and the dialogue seems to open it up a little bit. I felt somewhat sorry for her. Back in the states, who knows what kind of a man she would have ended up with, or what kind of job for that matter. Here, she was stuck with a mechanic, running the ‘cash register,’ checking oil and measuring them and filling them back up. She was obviously displaying the fact that this was nowhere near the life of her childhood dreams. Her sister comes around about this point in time, and she is quickly filled in about my story. The entire family of 8 or so is around my car by then, and desperately wants to try and buy my car for $2000. I say that I can’t, I must keep going on this journey. Her sister asks me in Spanish, “do you want a wife? Take me with you, nothing else is important.””
“There are a couple ‘truck’ drivers [back at the hotel], one named Ollie, who is German and drives around mostly German people around Peru, and the other one is Raymond, who is British and drives around anyone who speaks English for that matter, having started in Rio, Brazil. They don’t know each other, and actually just happened to stay in the same place at the same time. They’re going in two different directions tomorrow.”
Ollie’s truck on the left, Raymond’s on the right.
“I hadn’t seen Raymond, and I notice that Ollie’s already started to cook. So I haphazardly ask him if it’s ok if I join him and his party of some 10 German people for dinner. He doesn’t even flinch and tells me that it’s ok. I quickly introduce myself to the rest of the party and come back in 30 minutes in time for dinner.”
“They’re having some spaghetti sauce with noodles for dinner. They’ve got a salad with several different dressings. First question they ask me is, “red wine or white wine?” Jeez, just water, please. Then, with everyone at the table, we all hold our hands together, and say in unison something along the lines of “Bonne Appetite,” but in German. Man, that was fun.”
“I hadn’t eaten anything all day, and their hospitality is amazing. They’re German, but quite a few of them speak English so well that I don’t have any trouble explaining what I’m doing and all. We talk about everything. Traveling, politics, movies, world economy, women… I tell everyone at the table that all of this is heaven to me, and everyone heartily laughs at how appreciative I am at their hospitality. One of them jokes around with me and tells me that the consequence of having dinner with them is for me to do all the dishes by myself!”
“At the end of the meal, they pass around a glass of Pisco, which everyone sips out of and then ‘passes it to the next friend.’ It tasted like Vodka. One of them takes a picture of me, which reminds me to bring out my laptop to show them pictures of where I’ve been. One guy’s been through Mexico and Guatemala and loved it, so he smiles every time a picture of Lake Atitlan or Palenque or Monte Alban came up.”
20 Jul 07 – Cuzco to Machu Picchu and back
On my way to Machu Picchu. After a 90 minute bus ride to Ollantaytambo, I took a 90 minute train to the valley underneath Machu Picchu. There are no roads leading to Machu Picchu, only a railroad. And it was expensive.
Here’s Rafael. Who the hell is Rafael? The one you see with the white sweater in the picture, of course! Due to Machu Picchu being in peak season right now, I had to settle for cancelled tickets.
“…I had also gone to a travel agency near the hostal. I meet a guy named John, who speaks pretty good English. He tells me the train stations are closed right now, but he can see if there are any cancellations. I use the internet for a bit and he gets back to me, saying that someone named Rafaele Canteno has cancelled his tickets. So I can go in his stead, but it will cost $145 ($28.50 for train ride each way, plus bus tickets, and ticket to Machu Picchu 120 soles or about $40, and tour guide). Jeez, I wanted to go to Machu Picchu, but also wanted to relax a bit before all of that. He says I need to meet him at 6AM and I will be back around 8PM. “
This is the somewhat chaotic scene right off the train station. There are people shouting the guide’s names, holding various flags and trying to gather up the tourists coming off the train.
This is the first time I ever had lunch/dinner sitting right next to a functioning railroad.
Then there’s another 25 minute bus ride up the steep mountain to the entrance of Machu Picchu. This is what the ticket booth looks like. You must buy your tickets ahead of time, they simply collect your tickets here.
And after you enter the ticket booth, this is the view looking back. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to build up the suspense for
“Saw Machu Picchu today. I strongly believe it was better than Tikal. It’s not just the fact that a grand view awaits you everywhere you go in Machu Picchu at 9000 feet. It’s also because of precise measurement of the stones, the meaning of so many different symbols in the ruins, combined with the majestic view of the surrounding mountains.”
Machu Picchu means ‘old mountain’. That is the mountain behind the view of this camera. The famous mountain you see here is Wayna Picchu, which I think means ‘young mountain.’ The ‘older’ one is obviously taller than the ‘younger’ one.
This is the interior of the main entrance. The holes you see on either side of the entrance were used in…
… this fashion to block it out.
Ever wonder how they cut the stones? Well I sure did. Here is a demonstration done on a rock up in the mountains (there is a quarry of rocks at the site that they cut). They carve out these deep holes in the rocks. Then they would shove a wood piece inside. And when it rains, the wood would expand, making this cut you see here. These holes were a demonstration done by some European dude in the 1900s. You can kind of see, though, the original holes on the right side of the rock.
This is one of the pieces of rocks I would have simply passed by without a guide. So Machu Picchu is a sanctuary surrounded or ‘protected’ by 4 mighty mountains. The point where the compass is at is pointing towards the south. And if you were standing right there, you can see that each direction (all perfectly pointing towards either north, south, east or west) points towards one of the four mountains.
The day started out at 6AM and I got back to my hostal at 9PM. But I only stayed at Machu Picchu for only about 3 hours. The transportation there and back took 4 hours each, transferring between a bus, train, and back on the bus.
I forget the name of this stone but it’s supposed to indicate the time of the year. And it’s also supposed to create some kind of energy which rejuvenates you if you are close to it? Anyway, most people stick their hand out close to the rocks to get ‘rejuvenated’. I sure didn’t feel anything. The guy on the other side of this picture is obviously taking the whole idea a little too seriously.
Near the ground level, 4 pictures put together.
“There was this boy who was wearing some sort of indigenous overall who started waving at us as the bus left Machu Picchu down to the train station. I thought I was hallucinating when I could have sworn I saw the same boy a couple minutes later near the windy roads that the bus was going down on. But no I wasn’t! He was running down the steps of the mountain while the bus was winding around it, and I kept seeing this boy over and over again, waiting for us and waving as we passed by. He would do this the entire 20 minute bus ride down to 8000 feet altitude! Afterwards, he would get on the bus and ask for money, and I happily obliged.
The guy I was sitting next to used to work for McDonnell Douglas plant and retired in Toronto but traveled extensively to Long Beach, CA before it was bought off by Boeing. This was his second day going up and down Machu Picchu and was a little disappointed by this boy’s performance. He said that the boy from yesterday was always waiting by the steps before the bus passed by, while this one could sometimes be seen running down the steps as we passed him by.”
I know it was a long post, and I hope you enjoyed. I don’t think I’ll have too many more pictures to post from now on, since I only have 2 more countries to go to. I hope my car can last another 5000 miles. Will update more in a week or two, probably with text.
21 Jul 07 – Cuzco, Peru
This isn’t the most exciting post yet. In fact, it’s probably the most boring one of the series so far. But if you give it its due diligence, you will get a basic sense of what going on this trip alone feels like. In fact, you will not see a single picture of me in it. Just my car, and the people I’ve encountered.
You know what REALLY pisses me off? Jackasses doing marijuana during their international travels. Did you really come flying some 10000 miles just to smoke some joint and fly back? What’s the whole point, to tell all your friends about all the continents you’ve been to and which country has the best pot? Before this trip started, I held backpackers in high regard until I actually had to deal with them. This isn’t the first time the smoke is seeping into my room.
Desolate, barren, nauseating. This picture was taken during the course of the last post, but I decided to include it anyway. Ever wonder what driving at 15000 feet looks like? I never did, but I got to find out. (Ok, ok, so it was 14938 Feet) I had to pay toll at 13000 feet. I had the accelerator pressed halfway down and it still had trouble keeping itself going.
The very left dot represents 8830 feet at 10:20AM. The top right dot represents 13106 feet at 10:57AM. I had gone 19.5 miles in 37 minutes, climbing 4276 feet. Then I drove at 14000 feet for an hour or two. I never thought I’d be so prone to altitude sickness while driving, but it was definitely one of the harder day drives I’ve ever done.
I suppose one way to figure out just how hard this drive was is to follow the tracks with your mouse cursor. Then imagine having to make the same stops and turns on a car while climbing 115 feet per minute.
“Plaza de Armas is built on what used to be one of two Inca heart of the old Cuzco, called Huacaypata (the place of tears) (Footprint’s).” This isn’t a very well stitched picture but I wanted to include it to show Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas. To the left is The Cathedral, and to the right is La Campania de Jesus Cathedral.
Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas is a sight to behold at night. I really like the ambiance of the golden fluorescent lights reflecting off the large plaza and the surrounding Cathedrals.
22 Jul 07 – Cuzco, Peru
You’ve gotta marvel at just how precise the Incans were with their stonework.
“I went immediately then to Plaza de las Armas, where I could hear some music being played. It was the military band playing as a parade went marching by the Plaza, in front of the main Cathedral. This went on as the band kept playing the same song for about an hour or so.”
It was actually somewhat freaky. The marching was reminiscent of communists’ military parades, with young girls attempting to march in step while kicking high and exaggerating arm movements.
These guys finished the show and it was obvious they’ve done it before.
Afterwards, the same band that played throughout the parade would put on quite a show around the Plaza. That was actually pretty cool.
The Cathedral. “The high altar is solid silver and the original altar retablo (correct spelling) behind it is a masterpiece of Andean painting.” (Footprint’s)
“I bought a ticket to the main Cathedral at the plaza. I was thinking about skipping it, because no one else was going in for whatever reason and I was just so worried about other things. But it was a good move to go in. The Cathedral of Cuzco is one of the most, if not the most, impressive Cathedral I’ve ever been to. And yes, I’ve been to Notre Dame. But that one doesn’t match the interior design of the Cathedral here. Too bad I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, though. There are several signs both outside and inside the Cathedral that prohibit both photography as well as video, with or without flash.”
If you hike up a bit you can see this wonderful view of Cuzco. It’s similar to that of entering Cuzco from the mountaintop via Nazca and Abancay, but a much easier hike.
23 Jul 07 – Cuzco
“…But thankfully, it got better. I think after being in the cold night for so long, the brakes had quite simply frozen and was slipping. So it went back to normal after 5 minutes of usage.”
I get to the mechanic shop, and that’s when I realize why John wanted to come with me. The mechanic shop is actually right next to his parents’ house! There’s a man walking down the street, and he gleefully says, look, that’s my father! We pull in to the garage, where the short mechanic of 55 years old quickly diagnoses the problem. There was smoke coming under the air filter when the accident happened. And when I revved up the engine too much in any gear, I would hear this whizzing sound that increased and decreased with the rev. He says, “it’s the turbo.”
“Meanwhile, John displays the face of Peruvian hospitality. He had gone over to the grocery store in the morning to buy bread and cheese for breakfast for both of us today. I thoroughly enjoyed the cheese and the bread, as well as the tea called Anis. He says it’s good for stomachache due to altitude sickness. I drink a bit of it, and surely enough, it immediately soothes the stomachache.”
“All of a sudden, it’s time for lunch. And John prepares fish for lunch. His mother joins us as well, and the conversation between the two starts to get serious enough that John seems to be silently sobbing and I excuse myself from the table. At one point, he looked at me and said, “This is Peru.””
“[The mechanic came back and said that the turbo specialist will be done by 3PM.] I get to the workshop at 4:30 PM, but the guy says another hour is needed. I go use the internet, come back, and wait until 6:30 PM. By then, the sun had set and temperatures were rapidly dropping. I was only wearing a shirt then, believing that I would have been back with the turbo piece by then… I finally go inside and tell the workshop worker that I don’t care about anything but I just want the turbo to be perfect. He says that’s why it’s taking so long, something about the oil and the pressure level, and I tell him I’ll be back tomorrow morning.”
“We take a van bus there and again to the cultural center as well. That was a pretty fun experience for less than 70 soles cents (less than 25 cents). The vans have particular names on them which indicate what routes they’re taking. There is the driver as well as a helper who opens the side door and receives the payment as well. The helper (on the right) also opens the door or the windows and at each paradero starts screaming out in rapid succession the names of the places that the van is going to. And he does this every ‘bus’ stop, every 2 blocks or so.”
The highest number of people I’ve been in one of these van buses is 22. For some reason, I get the feeling that’s somewhat normal.
“I take a van to the mechanic’s shop at 6:30PM, with the moon in full glow directly above me. But that’s after I eat some shishkabab style beef with potatoes on the sticks for 50 centimos each. I ate 3 beef and 2 pork, and I thoroughly enjoyed both. I had 3 of them on the van when one of the girls is eyeing me either because I look different or because she’s hungry. I offer her a stick and she happily accepts.”
24 Jul 07 – Cuzco
“I didn’t do anything all day today. It was one of the most stressful days of my life.
Turbo specialist’s name is Javier… he comes around and says it’ll be ready soon.
I get back to the garage around 9, 9:30AM, thinking the mechanic will be waiting for me. But I’m wrong. He’s gone to work on someone’s tractor at a village about 10 kilometers away.
Looking around the garage, I see an old truck they’re working on, and a van, a truck, and [a bus]. Which makes me all the more nervous… will my car be next in line to be used for spare parts and sorts? I surely hope not. And I won’t find out until tomorrow because today, I did absolutely nothing but worry.”
I waited all day and all night and the mechanic never came back.
25 Jul 07 – Cuzco
“Remember the mechanic that took the turbo out of the car on Monday? Well it’s Thursday and he still hasn’t returned. … The thing is, I’m not the only one that’s waiting for him. There are several others by now, and all 4 of them are waiting around in the sporadic rain. We talked about the car, what I’m doing, where I’m from, and how I was waiting, just as they are, for the mechanic to return. The only difference is that he left me after having taken the turbo out. It’s like taking out a liver and in the middle of the surgery going to another town 10 kilometers away to do a heart transplant.”
“But they’re all very nice people, and tell me about where they’re from. 2 of them are descendents of Peruvian area, while 1 of them is from the Spain area and 1 of them is actually indigenous. So there’s a good mix of them around here, they say. I take out my laptop and show them some pictures, about how I came to be where I am today. I think they liked the map showing the GPS reading of the Central American route that I took. I really liked how friendly they were even though I am sure I answered the wrong question half the time. I remember that I have 3 cigars, and they all go around taking a puff, but one of them is a big fan of it and decides to save it for later. I have 2 cigars left, and only 1 of them is going to be the victory cigar SHOULD I reach my destination.”
26 Jul 07 – Cuzco
“…I talk with Luchin (boy on the left) for a bit and realize, to my amazement, that he sleeps in the bus that I thought the mechanics were working on. It’s sitting on the corner of the garage, and I ask him if I can look inside but he kindly refuses.
I’m sick and tired of waiting for this guy. Luchin says [the mechanic’s] not back, but that he can put it back together. The boy is 16 years old, and I don’t really know what to make of it. But I don’t really have much of a choice. I reluctantly tell him to put it together.
I thought the man he was learning from would do most of the work and Luchin would just watch. But it was exactly the opposite. Luchin started telling the ‘maestro’ where all the pieces went and what not.”
The car works. A 16 year old and his team of 2 other teenagers and one older mechanic who had never seen an old Mercedes Turbo Diesel sedan before put the car back together. It was a harrowing experience, having to witness many mishaps through the process and wondering, once I started to warm up the glow plugs, whether the car will start at all or not.
27 Jul 07 – Cuzco to Arequipa
I just wanted to make sure you guys understood one thing. So I spent 4 days waiting for the car to get fixed up. Which meant I needed to spend 4 extra nights in Cuzco. John’s family was kind enough to offer me a room for all 4 nights free of charge.
“I cannot say enough about the Peruvian hospitality. … here, it’s almost like they take you in with hospitality because that’s just the way things are, nothing more. Yesterday, for example, the guy that is in charge of the small store/bar downstairs comes up and knocks on the door and brings me hot water, tea bags, a cup and a piece of pastry up, telling me that it’s just service, nothing more. This morning, when I thought I was going to leave, he gives me a heartfelt handshake, wishing me well.”
One of the things about driving alone that I’ve mentioned before and I mention again is that it’s terribly hard taking a picture of yourself. So I’ve come to take pictures of my car to represent me.
If you had to guess what altitude this picture was taken, what would you say? The correct answer is under the following picture.
The answer is 13000 feet. This one is at 14000. The lake is high enough that it’s too cold to evaporate and low enough that it’s not iced. In fact, there is a bridge that you have to take to go across it. That was a pretty cool experience, all at 14000 feet.
28 Jul 07 – Arequipa
Jeez, this is tough. I’ve had such a rich experience in Arequipa in the 24 hours I’ve been here that I am having trouble choosing pictures and excerpts of my journals and adding captions. In case you couldn’t tell, the captions with “quotation marks” around them are excerpts from a fairly thorough journal I’ve been keeping. The ” … ” indicate some parts I’ve chosen to keep out of the xanga.
Let me begin by trying to give you a glimpse of Monasterio de Santa Catalina, one of the first things I did today. It is long mostly because I want to record the significance of what I saw today for myself.
The picture here is a very good representation of the monastery. I didn’t think it was all that big looking at the map of Arequipa, but the tour kept going and going for 2 hours.
Excerpt from a wall poster inside the Monastery.
“The only convent in the world comprised of a city within a city.
Founded in 1579 by the Dominican Order, cloistered nuns still reside in reserved areas, and administer the Santa Catalina church adjacent to the convent.
Located on more than five acres, the convent includes three cloisters, several streets, a square, a church, an art gallery, eighty houses where the nuns lived, and more…
This is the entrance.
“…Its valuable collection of more than 400 paintings dates from colonial times.
Completely built of sillar volcanic stone, it constitutes one of Latin America’s most important architectural and religious monuments.
The opening of the Santa Catalina Convent to the public in 1970 succeeded in promoting Arequipa as an international tourist attraction.”
You know, Tikal, Guatemala, was amazing, and obviously a sight to behold. But I didn’t really feel like I needed a tour guide there. All in all, it was a fairly simple ruin, a bunch of temples that a bunch of people built for a bunch of years to worship the gods. But then you get to Machu Picchu and the monastery here in Arequipa, Peru, and I really feel like I’m surrounded by rich and fascinating history.
So the moral of the story is, even if you’re not a big fan of tour guides, get them if you’re ever in Machu Picchu or the Monasterio de Santa Catalina. You can thank me later, because all in all, they’re not even all that expensive. I sat in for a 30 minute bit of some tour group in Tikal, and it was fairly lame; in fact, I just felt like it ruined the essence of the beautiful scenery there. I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything while enjoying the sights alone. Plus, the Central America ruins have some expensive tour guides, such as Palenque, Mexico, which asked for some $30 a person, whereas the Monastery one cost me $3 US and Machu Picchu cost me some $15.
Anyway the picture above is where the nuns got to communicate with their family in this room. There are 6 such ‘windows’ as you see on the left against the wall, which is separated by another such ‘window’ on the other side of the wall, which is about 2 feet thick. The head nuns would stand next to each younger nun talking to her family, controlling the conversation.
The entrance to the ‘orange cloister.’ Silencio. Silence. They emphasized discipline like no other. The nuns were brought in at a young age, at 11 or 12 years old. Which isn’t all that young, actually, considering how people back then married at around 12-13. There was a hierarchy system within the nuns as well, with the lowest class being that of the indigenous/mixed people, and the upper class being of strictly Spanish blood. There were at one point 500 nuns living in this monastery, in total seclusion from the outside world, separated by thick and high walls.
The younger nuns were brought up with strict discipline. This is a room in the ‘orange cloister’, where the nuns were locked up from outside and forced to study or sleep and such. There was a couple candles and a basic table.
And this is where they slept, a true small hole in the wall. The monastery is full of arches to protect itself from earthquakes. However, it would eventually succumb to the forces of nature, which sadly ended centuries of rich tradition. The monastery was self-sustaining, one that financially supported itself through sales of pastry and such. However, the earthquakes of 1951 caused financial burden of reconstruction, and subsequent earthquake of 1953 forced the monastery into bankruptcy. Since then, the monastery has been sold to an agency that looks after its maintenance and restoration. Most nuns have moved elsewhere, but 30 still remain in a much smaller part of the original monastery.
The ‘blue cloister’. The nuns were brought in by their families, and the families brought with them a ‘dowry’ of silver coins, depending on the hierarchy that the nuns were entering. It was impossible for lower hierarchy nun to rise up the ranks, as it was also determined by bloodline as well.
There are several paintings on the walls. This one is missing because it’s been taken down for restoration, which is being funded in part by the US Embassy in Lima.
This is Maria Gonzales. Who she is, I don’t really recall, but here is a picture of her in her deathbed, which is some 3 feet to the right of where this picture was taken. She was ‘in bed’ for some 10 years.
By the way, the freaky dolls you see all over the monastery, including in this picture, is that of baby Jesus. They would make little dolls and dress them up with the most expensive and most elaborate clothing, because “they gave the best of what they had to ‘God.'”
Don’t know when this picture was taken, but here’s a picture of a picture of the nuns of Santa Catalina.
This is a hospital, now converted to a bit of a artifact museum. Like I mentioned before, the arched holes in the walls indicate bed placements. I can’t really comment on these artifacts other than just show them to you. One thing I should say, though, is that the nuns of different cloisters would ‘compete’ on who could embroider the best. The level of embroidery is quite stunning.
“THE EUCHARIST WAFER.
A Small, thin, round piece of unleavened bread which is consecrated during the celebration of mass and becomes the Body of Christ which was offered in sacrifice to amend for our sins. In the center are the initials JHS, which stand for “Jesus Hominorum Salvator”: Jesus Savior of Man”
All the nuns were forced to learn Latin.
This is a water filter made entirely out of volcanic rock. It would filter one liter of drinkable water in 10 hours. I saw a drop of water being filtered into a pot every 3 or 4 seconds. By the way, Arequipa lies just a few miles away from a volcano.
This is the cloister where all the ‘high class’ nuns lived. There are several streets like this all over the monastery, but none are as prominent as those in this particular cloister. The tour guide told us of an interesting story about a girl who ran away from her family, thinking that the life in the nunnery would be better. She quickly found out it wasn’t as cracked up as she thought it would be. She would later escape, stage her own death by finding a corpse of an indigenous girl and moving it to a house and later burning it down. She would later move to Lima where she married some doctor that used to work at the monastery. The nuns of the monastery later found out that she was still alive because she sent a letter asking for the return of her dowry. Her request was firmly rejected.
And this is the ‘laundry’ room, where nuns would do their laundry using the hand pumped water that flowed down to their pots. 180 degrees behind this photo is an entrance to the blocked off cemetery.
Rat trap. The rat would reach for the food inside. The wires hanging down in the middle would trap the mouse and prevent it from moving back out. The nuns would not kill the rats and would simply let it sit there and die.
They have everything in this monastery, including this functioning fountain with live fish inside.
This is the bath. The nuns would take a bath 7 times a year. Why? Because 7 is apparently some holy number. The other reason being that the indigenous people took a bath every day. And anything that the indigenous people did was considered ‘unholy’. 2 or 3 nuns would bath here at the same time.
You go up a little dome building and you’re treated to this beautiful view of the snow capped mountains. To the right is the volcano.
Beate Ana de Los Angeles. She apparently cured a patient of cancer before dying in this cell in 1686, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II during his visit to the city in 1985. She is currently awaiting to be upgraded to a Saint status.
And this is how she slept. I forget what you call it, but those are wires poking out, the sort of self-inflicting pain overcoming thing.
Dormitory. There are hooks on the high ceilings, from which drapes used to separate and cover the ‘rooms’. Since then, it’s been converted to an art gallery.
“Today, I just relaxed and simply enjoyed the city of Arequipa, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite cities of all time.
I’ve been here barely 24 hours and I feel like this city has a lot more to offer. Regrettably, I will be leaving tomorrow morning. But it’s a city that I came in expecting absolutely nothing but a safe haven for a day and will leave not wanting to leave at all. This is the second city that I’ve ever thought that of, the only other being Montreal.”
“At population one million, it’s not too big, not too small. It’s right under the nose of a volcano and snow capped mountain, yet enjoys beautiful weather year round. The temperate cold of night only adds to the romantic feel of the city, and a river calmly passes through it as if to soothe the maddening drivers to her own tempo. The people are classy, intent on enjoying life. Yet, behind those welcoming, friendly faces lie unmistakable ambition, fully aware of and actively pursuing their dreams. The main square is showing signs of succumbing to tourists. But it has somehow mystically maintained its identity.
Although I’ve only seen a small portion, and that portion being the main center of it, this is the only city I’ve been to so far where I cannot ask the question, “have you ever been to California?” Because the people here certainly have done what’s right with that which surrounds them, and I do not believe California, or any other place I’ve grown to love, has much more to offer these people other than the means to realize that there is no end to human greed.”
“Plaza de Armas of Arequipa is my favorite city center of this journey so far. Cuzco’s was bigger. But Arequipa’s is enjoyed mostly by the people here, not by tourists and pick-pocketers of the former. Certainly Cartagena remains the most impressive city I’ve ever been to. But the mere feel of Arequipa is what makes me regret I have but few more hours here.”
La Iberica’s Fondant is the best dark chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. If you’re ever in Arequipa, make sure you give it a try. Just ask anyone where ‘La Iberica’ is and they’ll tell you.