March 13-16, 2017
The overnight bus to Arequipa was a smooth ride. As per usual, I only dozed briefly so we were good and tired when arriving at the Flying Dog Hostel well before checkin time. I took a nap on the couch in the common area, and by then they’d gotten our room ready (early) and we slept for a bit in our room. Our room was nice, but it had no vents or windows so we had to keep the door open for a while every day to let the damp shower air out.
We’d come to Arequipa with the plan to get me better, and it just happened. Ever since we left Nazca I improved, and there never was a need to see a doctor. The first few days I limited my intake to caldo (meat broth with noodles, vegetables, and a little meat). Then we got to eat some of the tasty food the city has to offer. This included alpaca steak (a little like pork, but with a lighter flavor, and very tender), pizza (Italian style, with a fluffy crust), real chocolate, wonderful fruit juice mixes, and stuffed spicy bell pepper.
We spent almost all our time in Arequipa’s old downtown, which is full of old buildings, narrow streets, wonderfully tall doors, tourists, and shops selling items made from baby alpaca fur. It’s been funding trying restaurants, checking out some old churches, and visiting a massive convent at night, which was largely candle-lit. We would have preferred a daytime visit so we could see better, but there was definitely some charm to experiencing the place in near-darkness.
I took some dance classes, so I haven’t carried my dance shoes all this time for nothing. Facebook found me a dance school that was really close to where we were staying, so I showed up one night with the idea of scheduling a private. I was there before the teacher, but somebody else was really early, and gave my Spanish a good workout. 3 minutes before class the teacher (Jose) showed up, and he convinced me to just join, so I got a 90-minute bachata lesson, which is not a dance I’ve ever done. It went much better than I had any right to expect. The class was almost entirely in Spanish, and interestingly enough almost all the students (certainly all the follows) where not from Peru, but were here to study, volunteer, or otherwise work. The next day I had a 2-hour private salsa lesson. Jose’s English is quite good, and that helped a lot. In the private class we started at the beginning and I ended with the feeling that I might be able to survive a social dance. That will be the next challenge.
We did wander out of downtown to a viewpoint one day. As it has several times, Google Maps really simplified that walk. You can download sections of the map to your phone which takes surprisingly little storage. (Lima, a city of 11 million people, fits in about 40MB.) I’ve barely used a paper map this trip, and my phone is already loaded with the next several places we’ll be visiting. It’s also wonderful to have on the bus, so I can have some idea of how much longer (are we there yet?) we have to go.
In a continuing series of missing items, I apparently left my fleece somewhere between home and here. It’s been hot almost all the time so I haven’t needed it, but in Arequipa the weather has been cooler and I noticed. We replaced it at a fancy outdoor store, and I got an alpaca hat which feels thinner than necessary, but alpaca is supposed to be an amazing material so we’ll see when it actually gets cold.