Day tour of Arequipa, Peru

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First stop on the tour was Carmen Alto–a high point overlooking the Chili River Valley. It’s called in Spanish a “mirador,” a lookout point.
This is the awesome volcano Misti from the overlooks balcony. This is a great tourist spot–with a cafe and gift store. They even have a zipline. I may come back to try that! Originally, it was just a farm house (and it’s still surrounded by farms).

Yesterday, I took what turned out to be a private tour of the city–just me and a young guide named Stephanie. She was pretty nervous so this must have been one of her first tours. Her English was better than my Spanish, and we managed to communicate.

At the bottom, you can see the Chili River. And yes, it’s cold. In fact the Quechua name for the river is spelled similarly and also means “cold.”
To the right is Misti, an active volcano. Her last eruption was a very long time ago, but occasionally you can see smoke rising. The last serious earthquake was in 2001.
To the right are the dormant volcano chain called Chachane.
This is Casa de Retiros de la Luisa, a religious retreat center, surrounded by terraced farms.
In the far distance, the upper right hand corner of the photo, you can just make out the dormant volcano chain Picchu Picchu. “Picchu” is a Quechua (KET CHU WA) word that means “mountain.” To make a plural in Quechuan, you just say the noun twice.

I also found a short video of the area:

Chachane mountains and the terraced farm land below.
These cows only seem to have a fence on three sides of this triangular piece of ground. The far edge for them is just a cliff!
A display of Peruvian items. at the top are three fruits and vegetables: Tumbo (also called Banana Passionfruit) Papaya de Arequipa (a small, sour papaya of the area) and Macha (a small potato like vegetable that is used only in small amounts). the last item doesn’t seem to be related to the green tea-like drink. I clearly need to investigate more.
To the left is Cat’s Claw and to the right are powered preparations of Macha.
To the left is Una de Gato (the herb Cat’s Claw) and to the right are Coca leaves, which also have small “stones” of ash to be taken with them. Yes, this is legal in Peru. Yes, I bought some. No, I haven’t tried them, yet. I also got some Coca candies, which tasted like horehound and had no effect.

I didn’t buy the Cat’s Claw, but after reading THIS, I will: “With a lengthy history dating back to the Inca civilization, Cat’s Claw has been used as a traditional medicine in the Andes to treat inflammation, gastric ulcers, rheumatism, dysentery, intestinal complaints and wounds.
The tribes of the Amazon have used this woody vine as a general tonic to promote good health for 1000’s of years – a tonic that can be used to bring anyone back to health. Its reputation as a “cure all” now seems to be validated by modern science, with numerous studies on the plethora of active compounds shedding new light on this ancient herb.
A recent study showed that Cat’s Claw significantly elevated the infection fighting white blood cell count in adult men who supplemented with this herb for 6 months. Researchers also noted a repair in DNA – both single and double strand breaks.
Its effect on the immune system appears to be two fold, with the ability to both boost and dampen immune response, depending on what is needed. Hyper immune responses can be contained, whilst a weak immune system that allows disease to advance undeterred is strengthened by supplementation with Cat’s Claw.”

This is the front of the Yanahuara District church, Church San Juan Bautista, in Yanahuara with it’s Peruvian Baroque facade. I actually live in this neighborhood, so I’d found it the day before. It’s the highest point in the city, so basically, I just walked straight up from my house.
The church was constructed from sillar, a pearly white volcanic rock, in 1750. It was closed this Sunday afternoon, but I’d seen a wedding there the day before.
This is one of the “teaching tools” for the natives, to help them understand Christianity. Latin and Spanish was spoken inside the church for the Spanish, but outside the mass was in Latin and Quechua.
This is the overlook from Yanahuara Plaza.
One of only a few olive trees in the city, but it doesn’t bear fruit.
Next we drove back to the Plaza de Armas–the central square of the old city of Arequipa. This is the cathedral of Arequipa, which is along one side. I’ve tried three times to visit it, but it’s been closed each time. Better luck next time.
This is a close up of the clock on the cathedral. There’s a bullet hole just inside the number 9. This from Arequipa Travel: “Arequipeños like to think of themselves as being separate from, and superior to, the rest of Peru, and much of Arequipa is very traditional and regional. It is even possible to get an Arequipeño passport, although this is no more than regional pride. However, the independence of the city is reflected in its history, which has often opposed itself to directives from Lima. In 1950, students from the Colegio Independencia school went on strike to protest again central government policies. In a march in the Plaza de Armas the police opened fire on the students, killing many. Signs of this are still visible in the clock face of the Cathedral, where a bullet hole from the shooting can be seen.” My guide assured me that Peruvians are quick to go to fight when needed.
We were supposed to go inside the Inglesia de Compania (church of the Companions of Jesus/Apostles), but it was closed. This is from the nearby cloisters, now a public square with shops.
A close up of the details pillars and arches. Remember, this is an seismically active area. Arches are not only decorative, but strong in an earthquake. It’s not always enough, though. This area has been re-built a few times. The last big quake was in 2001, an 8.4 on the Richter scale! The earthquake occurred at the boundary between the Nazca and South American plates. The two plates are converging towards each other at a rate of about 78mm per year. At least 74 people were killed, including 26 killed by a tsunami. At least 2,687 were injured, 17,510 homes were destroyed and 35,549 homes damaged in the Arequipa-Camana-Tacna area. An additional 64 people were missing due to the tsunami in the Camana-Chala area. Landslides blocked highways in the epicentral area. Many of the historic buildings in Arequipa were damaged or destroyed, including the left tower of the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa.
This is the students’ cloister–much plainer, so they wouldn’t be distracted from their studies.
An exterior door of the Iglesia de Companias shows St. James fighting the Moors, with mermaids below.
Plaza de Armas, facing the basilica of Arequipa.
A lovely church garden, on my way back at the end of the tour.
And here’s what the chef recommends at Dimas Restaurante: Carpaccio of alpaca (thinly sliced, air dried alpaca meat), Grilled salmon and Lomo Saltado–a popular, traditional Peruvian dish, a stir fry that typically combines marinated strips of sirloin (or other beef steak) with onions, tomatoes, french fries, and other ingredients; and is typically served with rice. The dish originated as part of the chifa tradition, the Chinese cuisine of Peru.

We also visited the Monastery of Santa Catalina, but I’ll post those separately.

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Beth

I'm a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Peru. I'm exploring the world and you can come too!

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