Arequipa was Our first foray into Peruvian culture, and after 4 and a half months in Argentina, although sad to leave, we were excited to be going to a different country.
Arequipa is a beautifully situated place, next to the desert, a volcano and mountains. We were lucky enough to have a gorgeous view from our hostel room, which you can admire from the pictures.
Now in Peru, the Inca influence and history is a very evident, even after the strong Spanish conquest centuries ago. One thing you notice in Peru is that it is covered in mountains. The Incas thought of these mountains as sacred as they were closer to the gods, and some, gods themselves. Sooo, as you can imagine in order to pay respect to the gods, and hopefully prevent earthquakes etc (taken to mean the gods were angry) they trekked all the way up these mountains and volcanoes - from Cusco, the Incan capital, to sacrifice children to the gods.
As it happens, in the local Arequipa museum they have the best preserved example of a human sacrifice, Juanita. Lisa went to the museum and it was interesting, if not a little gross. AFter all the information about the ritual Lisa was taken to see this amazingly preserved mummy - you can even see the skin and fingernails! Apparently all the internal organs are still in tact - sorry for the overshare.
You may notice that it was only Lisa that went to the museum, this wasn´t because she had tired of Gemma and pushed her off a cliff, but was in fact due to a deceivingly ´nice´ mexican the night before. Let´s just say it was not pleasant, but the medics in Peru are efficient - Within 3 days Gem was walking in daylight again and ready to sample some more Peruvian cuisine!
When Gem was well, on our last day in Arequipa we visited the Santa Catalina monastery, part of the Spanish influence on Peru. It is huge, like a little city and although slightly smaller now, is still in use as a closed convent. We wondered around the complex and had a peek at their rooms and the old communication grates with the outside world. Was a little bit different to Lisa´s experience of convents apparently, the only experience Gem has is of being chased by nuns in her teens so she was a little on edge. I think you´ll agree though from the pics that it was a nice place.
Unfortunately, with the illness and the Inca Trail looming just a few days away, we had to miss Areiquipa´s main attraction, Colca Canyon which is the deepest in the world and is a lookout for Condors (huge birds of prey, rare and living high in the Andes mountians).
Despite these hardships we enjoyed Arequipa and we were looking forward to our next stop in Cusco to experience more Peruvian and of course Incan culture on the Inca Trail.