A Travellerspoint blog

Nuns and Alpacas

7th April 2010

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7th

Monastery

Arequipa has the Catalina Monastery which continues to be used to this day (but one’s not allowed in the active section.) We took tons of pictures as it was very beautiful and colorful. It was like a microcity within the city. This experience led us to look into Roman Catholic doctrine a bit closer because so much of what we saw and read seemed to contradict Biblical scripture. Our research revealed that for the most part their beliefs are not in line with scripture and the religion is more pagan than Christian.
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Local textile company

We found a local “living museum” run by the Sol Alapaca store where we could go see the process by which the famous Peruvian alpaca clothing are created. One of the very interesting things was to see pictures of animals from all over the globe that provide materials to make yarn to meet our clothing needs. For instance: camels in the middle east, sheep in Europe, goats in India, rabbits in China, and alpacas and llamas in South America.

It was interesting to see the start to finish process from animal to sweater.

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We really liked to see the way the natural dyes were made since ancient times.
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Posted by sethnmon 13:48 Archived in Peru Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

The White City

5 and 6 April 2010

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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.
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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.

134.jpgPlaza de Armas Arequipa

Plaza de Armas Arequipa

Monica on roof of restaurant

Monica on roof of restaurant


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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.

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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.

Strike

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

Protestors in Arequipa Plaza de Armas

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6th

We wandered all over town today. Browsing shops and looking at the Spanish colonial architecture.
114.jpgBreakfast in Arequipa

Breakfast in Arequipa

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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.

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Posted by sethnmon 12:45 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Sauna

4 April 2010

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Bad Stuff

We had planned on flying out of Lima to Arequipa on the 3rd using LAN airlines that we were getting tickets for through a travel agency called Go2Peru.com, they royally failed us and didn’t get the tickets, AND didn’t tell us that they didn’t get the tickets. So the morning of the 3rd we finally got a hold of them and the girl Monica talked to on the phone tried to lay blame on her coworker and then proceeded to hang up on Monica when Monica expressed frustration with the situation and that they had already charged our card for the reservation. If anyone is considering using a travel agency we don’t recommend them! (we did get our money back).

We have found that the best way to get flight and bus tickets is to go to the local office and buy them from one of their own agents. We ended up saving about $300 by taking Peruvian Airlines instead of LAN (LAN is known is for price gouging).

Sauna Included

Upon arriving to the airport 3 hours early we expected to get checked in quickly with plenty of time to spare.
Oops.
We’re still in Peru.
What were we thinking?
Our flight was supposed to leave at 3:45 pm. The check in booth didn’t open until 2. We don’t know the reason for this delay (they tell you to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight leaves).
Seth believes that the Peruvian Airline agents were secretly swapped for aliens that were surveilling us. They were surveilling us simply to see how humans react under stress and what better place to do this than at an airport.
When we finally got checked in and to our Gate we speedily boarded the aircraft. Ahhhh…finally some relief.
But wait, it’s wreeeeeeeaaaallly hot in here. Now, either the aliens need to keep a steady environment, that of a hot planetary climate resembling Mercury’s, or we’re getting a free sauna included on this flight! Woohoo!
Our little keychain thermometer displayed a blistering 95 degrees F (35 C) aboard the airplane. We were able to enjoy this sauna for about 45 minutes while the mechanics fixed some technical difficulty. Seth was able to sweat off a great deal of impurities within his system as the Christensen’s are known for their profuse glistening. Even though a couple elderly people almost fainted due to the heat we felt it was certainly worth the price... and to lighten up a bit the flight ended up being pleasant and the service was good.

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Unforeseen Blessing

After landing, Monica spoke with our taxi driver and found that copper miners are striking and blocking the roads to Lima. If we had stuck to our original plans we would have been on a bus from Lima to Arequipa and likely would’ve been turned around or not have made it here at all. We’re greatful :o)

Posted by sethnmon 17:52 Archived in Peru Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Miraflores

April 1-3

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Miraflores

We had planned on heading south but due to both of us recovering from a cold and not really having any interest in taking another overnight bus we decide to stay in Lima for a few more days.
We moved to the Radisson in Miraflores since the D’Osma was booked for the rest of the weekend. We relaxed and walked to two main shopping areas; the Larcomar upscale shops and the Inca Market. We have been told however that prices in Lima are about 30% higher than in other areas of Peru so we just browsed.
Larcomar Shopping Center

Larcomar Shopping Center


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Monica also got her hair cut and manicure done for about $20
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Radisson Ripoff

The Radisson is not a bad hotel but we think we had been lulled into complacency by the cheap and friendly hostels we had been staying in and forgot to keep our guard up regarding price gouging at large chain hotels. So we made a few mistakes in having our laundry done there which at other places costs a mere $3 to $5 and we don’t even want to say how much it was here… just don’t do it. We’ll just say Seth could have purchased some Peruvian gold for Monica for what we spent! Also the Hotel sold bottles of water at 6 soles each, which half a block down at the bodega were 1 sole (oh, and if you made the mistake of getting an “imported water” they were 16 soles each!) Lessons learned… if you get a deal on a room at a upscale commercial hotel, be on guard for the ridiculous prices of everything else.
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USS Carl Vinson Aircraft Carrier

When we got to Miraflores we noticed that we were not the only gringos around. Ironically, all the white guys we saw were clean shaven, had “high and tight” haircuts, and were buying everything they laid eyes on. We quickly guessed they were military – which was later confirmed. Adding 5000 US military personnel to the Miraflores area seemed to slightly overwhelm the local businesses but we’re sure they made enough money to make it worth it. With regards to our hotel, we noticed after the sailors left we received an added menu of breakfast items that one could get in addition to the buffet. So, if you happen to be in town when the US military is there don’t expect eggs and bacon with that cereal!

Posted by sethnmon 17:20 Archived in Peru Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Barranco

30 and 31 March

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We stayed at a cozy hostel in the “bohemian” district of Lima called Barranco. The service at D’Osma Bed & Breakfast was excellent and the architecture was very interesting – you almost felt like you were below deck in the wood paneled rooms of a spacious yacht. There was a bit of road noise though.

Barranco felt very safe to walk around in, even at night, and had good restaurants, cafés, and parks.
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Posted by sethnmon 19:53 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Heading Back Down

28 & 29 March

28th

Our last day at the Lazy Dog Inn. We were lazy.
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29th

Bus ride to Lima
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Hardware Store

Road in Huaraz

Road in Huaraz

Houses on Mtn side

Houses on Mtn side

Mountain view from bus ride

Mountain view from bus ride


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Another adventurous ride. We finally got used to a very large bus weaving around mountain roads with terrifying drops on the side, yeah!
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Oh, wait. We’re not really going to drive down the coast on that road are we? The one on the side of a giant sand dune falling into the great Pacific? It seemed like we were safely out of the mountains when lo and behold the Pan-American Highway presents a new challenge for us. This stretch of road seems to be built right on the side of a pyramid complete with several hundred foot drop on the side we were driving on – with no guard rail. Seth asked “why don’t they just build the road on top of the dune!” We couldn’t get a good shot of it because the sun was going down. And there to remind us of how dangerous this road could be, was a big rig as well as a 4x4 truck’s skeleton resting at the bottom of the cliff like a dead beached whale. Thankfully, that wasn’t us… another successful ride.
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Posted by sethnmon 19:39 Archived in Peru Tagged bus Comments (0)

10,000 to 13,500 ft

(3100 to 4100 m) 26 and 27 March 2010

semi-overcast

26th

To the gate of Huascaran National Park
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From the inn we are staying at we took a walk up to the Quebreda Cojup.
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This was a fairly easy first time hike. We walked mainly on roads and were able to observe locals herding their animals as well as the amazing walls of the canyon.
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We made it to the entrance of the park and were greeted by a local herder who asked the time and then oddly enough pulled out a cell phone and asked us to set the time for him. We were about to break for lunch so we asked if he would like to join us which he readily agreed to. We talked and Martin shared that he and another man live in a little hut for 8 days at a time switching off and on. He told us that he and the other guard watch the entrance to the park as the community has animals grazing inside and they have to make sure no one comes by and steals them. The hut he was staying in was built 100 years ago by the community. Other things we spoke about were his family, mountain weather, and livestock. He asked us what the horses are like in our country, he seemed to assume we would have good knowledge of this. Not knowing what to say Seth said “the horses seem bigger” which Martin responded to saying that “the horses in the next valley over are bigger also”…!
He allowed us to take pictures of his hut but seemed to be shy of the camera so we wanted to be sensitive to him and did not take any of him. It seems that many of the locals prefer not to be a tourist attraction.
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We headed back down arriving back around 4pm and logging about 10kms.

27th

Three Inches from Death with Domingo

The cabin next to us is occupied by a group of 6 people from France.
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They commissioned a driver named Domingo to take them on a road trip to the Llanganuco Lakes in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, and asked us to join them.
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Unbeknownst to any of us this trip would bring us to the brink of death.
A very small amount of the time was dedicated to hard top roads, most of the time the van we were in clung precariously to mountain sides on roads that could easily be confused for goat paths. At various times the tires of the van were 3 inches from the edge of which could drop hundreds of feet. If that wasn’t enough to make you pee your pants we also had to avoid hitting cows that were also using the road. In addition, we had to share the road with oncoming traffic and it really looked like we barely enough room to pass. A couple of the girls actually squealed in fear in one instance when it really looked like we might fall off the edge, we couldn’t believe he actually was about to do this circus act. We recall some of the girls we were riding with asking Domingo to “please keep your eyes on the road” which he would laugh at and say “why, you don’t want to fly today?”

Hours on a bumpy dirt road do wonders for the back, but it was worth it. The lakes, lookout view and hike were awe inspiring.
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On our way to Llanganuco Lakes

On our way to Llanganuco Lakes

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Fuzzy due to bumpyness

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Maize drying on house

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Posted by sethnmon 18:16 Archived in Peru Tagged foot Comments (0)

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