Day 32 - Travel to Arequipa

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November 5th 2018
Published: November 6th 2018
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Up early for our 04:30 transfer to Cusco Airport. It was a little early but it wasn’t far and we got to the airport over two hours before our flight. We had coffee and pastries for breakfast at a little shop after being scared off by the prices at a larger café. The total we paid was just 18 soles compared to that amount for just one sandwich. Flight took off on time and instead of sleeping I was glued to the view I was getting from watching out the window. After initial cloud it was clear most of the way and it was fascinating watching the changing landscape as we crossed the Andes. It was only about 40 minutes in the air.

It was a simple matter of paying 30 soles for an official taxi from a desk at the airport as I had read and we arrived at the Hotel Katari at about 09:00 and as expected our room wasn’t ready but they said we could leave our bags and use any of the facilities of the hotel. The Hotel is very nice and is ideally located in the Place de Armas and we are within asy walking distance of most of the attractions we want to visit. We ended up sitting in the lobby to have a cup of tea and work out what we should do for the day and after about 20 minutes they came over and said our room was ready, so up we went. Daisy had a shower and I put up yesterday’s blog post.

We headed out at 11:00 and heard all this noise in the the Plaza and I don’t really know what it was about but it looked a protest march by construction workers. Some of the banners had something about corruption. There is a supermarket right next to our htel and Daisy bought a couple of items before we walked the very short distance around the corner to the Museo Santuario Andino which is only small but features “Juanita”, a frozen Inca girl who was found in 1995 in an expedition on Mt Ampato near Arequipa. So in this case the mummification is natural from freezing not by mummification methods. Scans show that she was killed by a blow to the head. So it is presumed that she was given potions to make her sleep and then killed as a sacrifice to the mountain gods, she was about 13 years old. Another young girl was found two years later on the same mountain. The discovery was made because ice on the mountain had been melted by ash dropping from nearby volcano Sabancaya and the burial site fell into a gully. Her body can be seen in a very dark room in a special see through frozen case. Daisy found it a bit creepy and wouldn’t go in alone.

After that we went back to Place de Armas to look for the free walking tour we’d heard about but couldn’t find anyone, so we went into the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa. The church was closed at the time but the museum was open but the only way you can see the exhibition is with a guide and you also get to climb to the top of the church to the bell towers. It was only 15 soles each so we decided to do the tour which was in Spanish and English. A young lady was our guide and she was excellent, giving information about all the exhibits. When we got to the jeweled items we could see why they are so strict about being guided only. Some of the items would be priceless. It was good going up to the rooftop as well to see the views of the city. Arequipa seems to be neater and cleaner than some of the other places we have visited in Peru. One thing we noticed was that so many buildings looked unfinished. My guide yesterday, Carlos explained to me that the reason is that finished buildings are taxed by the government so to avoid tax they purposely make the buildings look unfinished by not plastering rough walls and then having reinforcing rods sticking out of the tops of the buildings. That explained a lot. Being in the old part of the city we haven’t seen any of that yet so perhaps when we venture out further after leaving the old city we’ll start seeing that again.

We then wandered around the square and found a shop selling the same rolled fruit ice creams that we saw in Cambodia where they called it fried ice cream. Cheap at 5 soles so we’ll have those again. We then just randomly walked around and found another shopping street and walked to one of the old houses mentioned in the local guide pamphlet, but it wasn’t what we expected. It is now used for a variety of different purposes and wasn’t like a museum. Around 16:00 we walked back to the hotel for a rest and blog catch-up and Daisy picked out a nice restaurant called Chicha.

Arequipa is suppose to have the best food in Peru so we figured it was a good place to splurge a bit. We walked into the restaurant at 18:30 without a reservation but just waited about 10 minutes before getting a table and the meal was probably the best one we’ve had so far in South America. Daisy had a a dish called Super Chupe which was like a seafood broth with River shrimp which is an Arequipean specialty from April to December, with potatoes, fava beans, cabbage, black mint and a sprinkle of milk. She loved it. I had Arequipean Fetuccini which was lamb cooked with white wine and guiapo chichi, finished with cream, parmesan, mushrooms and olive oil, also very delicious. To top it off we shared a dessert called Sensible Sphere which is described as “filled with lucuma ice cream, kiwicha crunch, candied quinoa, crème brulee foam and cocoa sauce. It came out as a big chocolate sphere and the waiter poured hot chocolate sauce over it and it opened up. I had to ask the waiter to describe all the ingredients but it was an amazing dessert with so many flavours in each mouthful. One of the best I’ve ever had.

We then rolled home and I ended up staying up to midnight sorting out a few things.

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