The White City
As you can imagine when we found out the nickname for Arequipa “The White City” Seth of course couldn’t stop humming the Lord of the Rings movie theme music.
The White City is a (grayish) white because of a rock called sillar which is petrified volcanic ash. Most of the city is made of this rock which is from the area. The colonial architecture and white walls are an attractive sight, especially from the main plaza of the city.
Plaza de Armas Arequipa
Monica on roof of restaurant
...Casa de Ana
On arrival to our hostel/B&B on the 4th we thought it was very nice and the owner was very knowledgeable and fun to talk to. Unfortunately, when we tried to go to sleep the incessant barking of 300 dogs in the neighborhood didn’t provide a great place to sleep. Also, Casa de Ana is in the suburbs but happens to be on one of the busier streets where taxi’s come around honking at all hours of the day and night. We also had 2 twin beds moved together which isn’t the most comfortable if you are a couple. And some of the construction seemed sloppy – with gaps around door jambs and the bathroom door couldn’t open all the way because it hit the sink. We decided to move our place of lodging because of all of this.
As we were walking through the city on the 5th we looked for another place and found a nice hotel called Las Torres de Ugarte – it was off of a road that was being worked on so was very quiet at night. Also, the rooms were larger, the bathroom functional and the walls thick. We also got a room on the inside courtyard – we recommend always getting an inside room if possible to avoid street noise which can start up very early in the morning around here.
The strike that we spoke of earlier that would have prevented us from reaching Arequipa was alive in the town square. As we got closer to the plaza we could hear loud drums beating and people shouting on bullhorns. We contemplated not getting too close but we decided to cautiously check it out. The majority of the crowds seemed to be elderly people and they did not look like they were out for a fight. We chose to eat lunch at a restaurant that has a second story terrace above the plaza where we could have a good view of the action.
We found out that the majority of the people were not actually miners but the poor peasants whose livelihoods have been ruined or seriously threatened by the horrible effects of the mining industry. Coming from Spokane and living near one of the largest mining disasters in the USA near Coeur D’Alene Idaho we have learned a lot about the irreversible and ongoing damage that mining has on the environment. Like the Spokane natural water systems, the people in this region of Peru have had their water systems contaminated and their lands threatened on which they depend for their agricultural business. And they don’t have the EPA or other agencies to regulate the mining companies. These demonstrations lasted for 2 days and we couldn’t help but wonder if their country was hearing them.
Protestors in Arequipa Plaza de Armas
We wandered all over town today. Browsing shops and looking at the Spanish colonial architecture.
Breakfast in Arequipa
We checked out the local indoor market which was very large and slightly overwhelming as they had every kind of food from fruits, vegetables, honey, cheese, grains and a full on slaughter house section. There was also every household good, textiles, hats and much more. We stuck out like turds in a punch bowl but in no way felt unsafe there. It was a very interesting sight because we’re not used to the dirty conditions as well as seeing whole animals that you get to pick what part you need chopped off.