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February 6th 2012
Published: February 7th 2012
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Monastery of Santa CatalinaMonastery of Santa CatalinaMonastery of Santa Catalina

A main thoroughfare in the monastery
Good breakfast with yoghurt, granola, fresh fruits, eggs and fresh rolls. Tried coca tea which is supposed to help with altitude sickness. Just tastes 'green'!

Neither of us have felt particularly well today - probably tiredness rather than altitude and getting dehydrated on the long bus journey yesterday.

Wandered into Plaza des Armas, Arequipa's central square. It's just like Plaza des Armas in Lima only a bit smaller....

There was a demonstration happening in the centre with someone beating drums and everyone dressed in sort of white overalls with big placards and some of the people were chained together. They were being watched by a row of policemen with full riot gear. Apparently these demonstrations happen about 3 or 4 times a week and are always peaceful. Haven't a clue what they were demonstrating about but it was a good spectacle and made a good photo.

Found the cathedral closed so went to the Monastery of Santa Catalina where we booked a guide who spoke English to show us around. It was fascinating. Huge dominican convent - a city within a city with streets and houses. The second daughters of the rich Spanish conquistadors were sent there for life from about the age of 12, became novices for 4 years where they lived in a single room on their own and were only allowed out of the room twice a day for prayers. Their food was passed to them through their window. The rich parents had to pay a dowry to the Convent equivalent to about $56,000. (The first daughter had to marry someone of the parents' choosing and the third daughter had to stay at home and look after the family. Any additional daughters could do what they pleased................

When they progressed to fully fledged nuns, they were given a whole house with four servants to look after them. Still a pretty miserable existence if you ask us. They couldn't touch their families but only speak to them once every so often through a double grill where another nun had to accompany them and listen in to the conversation to ensure everything was above board. they had a turntable where the families would put gifts for the nun and the turntable would then be swiveled so that the nun could reach it. No mirrors were permissible as this was a sign of vanity.

We then found a coffee shop and had a little sit down after our exhausting morning and went back to the hotel to collect our rain gear as it looked like the heavens were about to open and boy, did it pour. Even wearing our cagouls we were absolutely drenched. This weather does not bode well for travelling higher into the mountains tomorrow!

Lunch was at 5.00 pm as we weren't hungry before then. We passed a Moroccan restaurant and Ed's eyes lit up at the menu displayed in the street. He can never pass a felafel shop without wanting one. So we had felafel for lunch/supper followed by a coffee in a pastries shop and chose a piece of cake each. The portions were huge and I tried to find the word for 'take away' in the Spanish dictionary and worked out how to ask for 'a bag or a box to carry to the hotel´and the waiter looked at me and said in English ´To go?' Who needs Spanish? A couple of our group were the delighted recipients of my leftovers.

We went to the Cathedral and had a look round and walked up the main shopping street in the pouring rain. Street vendors selling umbrellas were raking it in. Arrived back at hotel bedraggled and changed into dry clothing and went for the hotel's Welcome Drink at 7.00pm which we missed as we arrived too late yesterday. We decided a cup of tea was even better.

We left our washing with the hotel to be back by 8.00 pm. One pays by the kilo. What we didn't realise until today when we walked down the road outside the hotel is that they send it out to a local launderette (and probably take a decent commission) and whilst the local launderettes advertise 1 hour or 2 hours service, we are still waiting around for ours at 10.30 and we are really tired and want to go to bed, especially as we have to have luggage on the bus by 6.45 am tomorrow. We are leaving earlier than planned as the whole of Arequipa is having the water suppy cut off for 24 hours from 6.00 am in order that they can make repairs caused by the recent earthquake.


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