Firstly we are not ignoring anybody´s requests to upload our photos. We would like to share them as much as you would like to see them but unfortunately internet cafe computers tend to be very slow and crash when we pressure them into uploading our pictures. As we have only been to small rustic towns so far, hopefully it will cause less of a problem in big cities and we will upload pictures when we can!
On the bus to the station where we were to catch out ten-hour night bus to Arequipa, we were slightly alarmed when the bus driver stopped in the middle of a field and got out to collect his windscreen wiper from the floor where it had just fallen off. Lucky for us though he did not need to use them as it was not raining! After waiting an hour wondering which kind of bus would be transporting us for such a long time, we were relieved to hop onto a luxury double decker with reclining seats, although it did smell of the people who had already been on the bus for hours! Simon woke us this morning with a poke and we opened our eyes to find a bus stewardess serving us a sandwich, which, on further questioning she described as "dog" we quickly handed back to her, only realising after she meant a hot dog, deciding to opt for the healthier option of mushy avocado (purchased at the market) and in true traveller-style cut it open with a swiss army knife!
There were no planned tours with the group today so we chose to go into town with Priya and Jason to do some sight-seeing. Our hotel is situated just off a road called Jerusalen, close to the main square where, like most Peruvian towns, there is the main cathedral where we headed first, barging in on morning mass, slightly embarrassed but continuing to take photos anyway! The city is made of volcanic rock which is where the name "white city" originated from. However, much to our surprise there were next to no white buildings to be found, they could best be described as an offish grey colour! This could be thanks to the 1 million inhabitants polluting the town.
Next stop was yet another church but on entering during their mass, we were thrown out and told to return when prayers had finished. Wondering down a side street to kill time before returning, we stumbled across a small doorway leading to an aladdin´s cave market, the highlight of our day where we all polished our haggling skills, even Laura who came away with some scarves but was later disappointed that Emma bought a bigger and better scarf for half the price! typical! Getting slightly carried away we spent over an hour there before returning to the church, which was beautiful (as expected...not that we are getting sick of churches!)
Emma decided at lunchtime she was craving korma, of all things! (despite disliking Indian food) and we had noticed earlier a vegetarian Indian restaurant, so felt this would be the perfect place to grab a quick snack. After ordering our food we realised we had returned to a completely different hare-krishna restaurant which actually turned out to be our best and healthiest meal so far as it did not include chips, rice or chicken. After a leisurely lunch of almost 2 hours we walked to a monastery where, unable to find the front door, we walked round in circles before finding it was closed until 5pm and it was currently 4pm. Instead, we went to see Juanita, an Incan noble mummy who was found, fully preserved, in 1994 in a volcano. We were shocked that to sustain her features she was kept in a block of ice in a freezing room in the dark, making it difficult to even see her- although we could tell she had not been blessed with the best looks!
Already having found what we thought was the entrance to the monastery, we hurried back before it closed. Enthusiatically pounding the "entrance" door we could not understand why nobody was answering. Suddenly we heard a little voice say "digame" meaning speak to me. Not realising this was not the entrance but a Monks bedroom and he could not show his face to us so spoke through a metal spinning flap! We continued to wonder around the building eventually coming to the entrance but finding the price a little steep to walk around the monastery with no guide so chose instead to have hot chocolate in a lovely westernised tea room. We almost forgot we were in South America until the waitresses began shooing out children beggars from the cafe, chasing them into the street!
The rest of the tour split into groups and went for an early dinner but we chose to come and update our blog meaning we are having a romantic dinner for two tonight! Tomorrow we are heading to the Colca Canyon and hot springs where it might finally be warm enough to remove our clothes!