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Published: July 16th 2008
I luuuurve Arequipa!
After the slightly unpleasant start in my grotty hostel I now think this place is amazing. It's a beautiful city, surrounded by mountains, mostly built of white stone / rock, with lots of wrought iron on gates and windows. If you wander off the main streets you regularly find yourself in a quiet courtyard with stunning architecture, fountains etc.
Plus, the weather is great. I'm making the most of it in anticipation of my return to the wonderful British summertime this weekend. I've dropped down to around half the altitude I was at in Cusco / Puno and I can feel the difference.
It's less touristy here than Lima and Cusco which means that although you do get hassled here, it happens much less than in those other cities.
There is a very cosmopolitan feel. There's a strong Morrocan / Turkish influence but all kinds of other restaurants too. I had Mexican and Peruvian yesterday (probably the best Peruvian I've had since arriving). There also seems a wide range of different sectors of society here.
But most importantly, these people are obsessed with cake and there are patisseries on every street. Yum!
Yesterday I decided 'to hell with poverty' as my mum would say, and bought a flight back from here to Lima, saving myself from the 18 hour overnight bus. Not a true traveller, clearly, but I have to be back at work on Monday and I would have been following an overnight bus ride with an overnight flight and I'm not 21 anymore... I will arrive back in Lima around 3pm and plan to just take things easy and get an early night in preparation for returning to GMT.
I went to see Juanita the Ice Princess yesterday. I've not done much in the way of museums etc out here but this was fascinating. Juanita was a 12-14 year old girl sacrified to the mountain gods by the Incas around 500 years ago. She had been buried and preserved by the ice on the mountains until the mid 1990s, when some explorers climbed the mountain to study the volcano which had recently erupted. The hot ash from this volcano had melted Juanita's tomb and exposed it. The explorers stumbled upon her tomb and shortly afterwards located Juanita, who had fallen into a crevice when her tomb defrosted. At the point at which the explorers found her, she had only been exposed to the elements for 2 weeks. An amazing stroke of luck as she is incredibly well preserved.
Alrighty, off to explore more xx
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