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Published: October 11th 2010
From Ica we took our first overnight bus 12 hours down to Arequipa. The bus companies in Peru don't have the most reliable reputations; Cruz del Sur is supposed to be the most safe, but a bit more expensive than the others. We got the last two tickets on the bus so not only were our seats not next to each other, but they were right near the bathroom! We were booked in the semi-cama class, which basically like a regular bus seat and only partially reclines (cama class reclines almost all the way into a bed). Lesson learned: book tickets early and make sure you are far away from the bathroom.
Arequipa is Peru's second largest city. Most people visit to see the Colca Canyon which is the world's second largest canyon (bigger than the Grand Canyon). We only have three days in Arequipa so we opted to do the one day tour. They picked us up at 3am from our hostel, we drove for a few hours and reached the canyon by breakfast. It was absolutely freezing, three layers of clothes and still cold. But once the sun came up it got quite warm. The one day tour doesn't
allow for any trekking, we were pretty much on and off the bus all day. Apparently we were really lucky, when we got to the Mirador there were several Condors hovering overhead. The condors are the world's largest bird of prey, their wingspan is greater than a human armspan. It was stunning. During the tour we had lunch in the village Chivuy. I took this opportunity to visit the local grade school. My friend and co-worker, Karen, back in the States sent me to SA with a bag filled with school supplies. This village is located around the canyon so its pretty remote and they were so grateful to receive the supplies. I wish I had had more time to spend at the school; I think they were happy just to have visitors.
The city of Arequipa is beautiful. We stayed at The Point hostel in the Vallecito neighborhood which is a quiet residential neighborhood that was really beautiful and only a 15 minute walk to the Plaza de Armas. The Monestary was really beautiful, very elaborate. We also went to a museum to see the mummy of Juanita. She was a 12 year old girl sacrificed to the gods
over 500 years ago and they just found her body in the 1990's, fully preserved by the ice capped mountain. It was crazy, her hair, organs, and skin were mostly intact.
My favorite thing was going up to the Mirador - I'm a sucker for lookout points. Unfortunately the Mirador was under construction, but we made the most of it by enjoying a glass of Chilean wine at a nearby restaurant and watching the sun set over the volcanoes surrounding the city.
Our 3 day stay in Arequipa turned into a 5 day stay because there was a strike in Cuzco. Apparently the Peruvian government wants to divert water from the towns surrounding Cuzco down towards Arequipa. The towns protested by blocking the roads with tons of stones. Luckily the strike didn't last longer and we are finally on our way to the Lost City.
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