The second-biggest tourist capital in Peru — after Cusco — Arequipa is a beautiful, laid-back, and reasonably-priced city to visit. The big attraction in the Arequipa area is the Cañon de Colca, a massive and scenic canyon to the city's north, where you can watch wild condors soaring on the winds. There are also volcanoes and mountains to be climbed nearby. Great place to relax for a bit, to get out and party some, and to have some wild adventures.
It seems that the recent troubles in Arequipa have cleared up a bit over the weekend, and that the roads in and out of the city are once-again open. For now, anyway. Not sure how long they'll stay open (it's still pretty volatile around here); but Chris and I seized the opportunity this evening, and grabbed a night bus to get us out of Arequipa, and over to the city of Nazca. Apparently, Nazca has been pretty much free of riots and roadblocks, so we should be fine there. Vamos a ver (lit: "we'll see").
This is probably news to everyone outside of Latin America, but for the past few weeks, the Copa América soccer tournament has been going on in Caracas, Venezuela. And everywhere that I've been lately — i.e. Bolivia, Chile, and Brazil — it's been the No. 1 thing on everyone's mind, and the one-and-only thing on every television in the continent. Well, this afternoon we finally had the grand final, between Brazil and Argentina: the way it turned out was that Argentina got slaughtered, and Brazil won the game 3-0.
I don't know where all my money's gone, this past week in Arequipa; but clearly it's gone somewhere, because it's not in my pocket anymore! I must have spent over s/900, just in the last week that I've been back here in Peru. I guess that Chris and I have been living it up a fair bit, what with dining at fancy restaurants two or three times a day, and with a big night out last night. Ah well, I guess you have to enjoy life and splurge out sometimes; and if you're going to splurge anywhere, you may as well do it here in South America! Because it leaves a much smaller dint in your wallet than a splurge back home does.
Since my camera got stolen yesterday, it was top-priority that I got myself a new one today. Luckily, Arequipa is one of those cities that has a great black market (although it's not as good as some), where you can get yourself a brand-new digicam for quite a bit less than ye 'ol RRP. The Canon PowerShot SD630 (called the "IXUS 65" in Europe, Australia / NZ, and elsewhere) is a great 6MP, 3x optical zoom camera, with a beautiful big bright screen, and great photo-taking abilities: so far, seems to be working great, and seems to be a big step up from my stolen baby.
There's a great restaurant in Arequipa, called Zig Zag (in Calle Zela, near the monastery), that's famous for doing ostrich steak. It's not cheap, but if you're up for a delicious and carnivorous meal, then it's more than worth it. Beautifully grilled, and served with salad, and chips / baked potato (plus about five different sauces). This was my first time having ostrich: it has quite a strong and tangy taste; but the meat is tender and delicious. Great feed.
You can't travel around the world for a year, without expecting to lose or to have stolen a number of things. This morning, my camera became the latest victim of the trip. I knew I would lose it eventually, but I never expected that it would happen quite like this.
I was sitting in an Internet café in downtown Arequipa, blogging and e-mailing away, when a mother with a small baby — and her female friend — came out of the bathroom, and walked behind where I was sitting. The mother dropped some tissues (to my left), and asked me to pick them up for her. I picked most of them up; she asked me if I could please pick up the rest. Which I did.
Ten minutes later, I got up, paid for my Internet time, walked out and down the road for about 20m, and then realised that my camera (which had been on the desk, to my right) was not in my pocket. I sprinted back to the café, but alas: the camera was not to be seen anywhere. And thus, here ends my time as the proud owner of an HP PhotoSmart R707, 5.1MP (3x opt zoom) digital camera.
Gopal is a little café in Arequipa, on the corner of calles Melgar and Jerusalén, that does vegetarian and other healthy cuisine. Went there for breakfast this morning, and had the most amazing desayuno ever! An absolutely massive bowl of muesli, fresh chopped-up fruits (banana, papaya, kiwifruit, strawberry, apple, and others), and lovely cool yoghurt. Served with tea/coffee, fresh orange juice, and whole wheat bread. Really kicks you off for the day, and tastes delicious.
This afternoon, our three-day hike of the Cañon del Colca was almost finished. We'd finished our relaxing visit to the hot springs in Chivay (and the great buffet lunch), and all that remained was to complete one last bus journey, back to Arequipa. And that proved to be the hardest part of the whole tour. Because Arequipa is currently a city under siege: the protests that I saw on Tuesday, before I left on the hike, have gotten much worse; all roads in and out of the city are now blockaded by angry mobs, and every man and his dog is now up in arms about life, the government, and everything. This made our journey home very interesting indeed.
As of today, this site has received a number of minor enhancements, in order to improve the ease of browsing through my numerous blog entries. I hope that you will find the following new features on the site convenient:
- There is now a monthly archive of all blog entries. You can view all blog entries for each month (grouped by day) on a single page! Should make it much easier to catch up on older blog entries, and to keep track of which entries you have and haven't read. Also provides fixed pages from which you can access all the entries, rather than the reverse chronological listing, where the entries on each page number change constantly.
- At the bottom of each blog entry (the full entry, not the summary), there is now a link to the previous and next entries (according to date and time). So you can now "cruise" from one blog entry to the next, without having to keep going back to the index pages.
Went and had a look at Monasterio de Santa Catalina today, a 400-year-old monastery and convent in the middle of Arequipa. Apparently, it's the only monastery in the world that's considered to be "a city inside a city". It's also still fully functioning, and inhabited by the same order of nuns that began it in Renaissance times. Interesting to see the antique sleeping rooms, the beautiful architecture, and — bizarrely — the ingenious laundry system that they have inside. Worth a wander, if you're in Arequipa and have an hour or so to spare.