Returning to the trip in chronological order. After Lake Titicaca we headed out to Arequipa. Peru’s second most populous city and renowned for its cuisine, earthquakes and rebellious population.
The city is located in an alpine valley/plain at 2100-2300 meters. On a clear day you can see two volcanoes. In the old town the buildings are constructed out of white volcanic stone. The Inca only used the site as a depot/way station. The Spanish established the city in 1540. They built churches and monasteries only to have them periodically destroyed or damaged by earthquakes. There was one minor earthquake during our visit, I felt it but thought that a heavy truck was passing by (though I did not hear anything).
We stayed in an out of the way hotel that somehow received very high ratings on booking.com. It was in a large converted home across the Grau bridge from the historical centre. It was a true “family run hotel” family members did run around the place in chanklas, yell at each other and make all sorts of noise. I guess you felt like you were with a Peruvian family. The hotel was accessed through a vault like door from the road. On entry guests were greeted by a stern faced Abuela (grandmother) sitting on a plastic chair in the dark. The room was large and clean though.
We joined a group of Europeans on a a free city tour given by a flamboyant local who was able to stop traffic (no small feat in Peru) by waving his wrists rapidly like the wings on the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He told us about Yanahuara0 the district named after the black underwear worn by the pre-Inca inhabitants. He also told us about how Arequipans are known to be very rebellious. A mass protest and general strike in 2002 forced the national government to back down from a water privatization project. Here is a billboard on a major intersection that shows how Arequipans feel about water
At the Nueva Palomino restaurant we sampled local cuisine, including ricotta relleno (stuffed hot pepper) with potato cake. Salads made with cheese and corn, different kinds of slow cooked and BBQ meats. We also had dinner at the famous Chicha restaurant. It was the best meal we had in Peru good service. In Arequipa we befriended Cato Johansen from Norway. In addition to fine cuisine, white stone building and rebellious citizens, Arequipa has musical garbage trucks. When I first heard the sound of music mixed in with a diesel motor, I thought great Ice Cream, but then I saw the women running with their garbage bags and realized it was something else. Here is a garbage truck clip.
We also went to a local gay bar that was very happening for the women, Here are some photos
Plaza des Armas
Something gross from the market
Santa Catalina Market
Can do in Quechua