This morning I went horseback riding. As a tour goes, I was not the best organized. Somehow I ended up paying for my own taxi home, after walking more than a mile to a place were we could even get a taxi. By that point, I was just ready to go.
But it was an “interesting” excursion, though not for the usual reasons. I was the only rider and Anibal was my guide. His family owns the farm and horses, though he is now living in Germany and only here on vacation. He was a funny guy, but a bit… “charming” ….for my tastes. When I asked the name of his horse, he said, “Nacho. Yo soy macho. El es Nacho.” (Nacho. I am macho. He is Nacho.) He also used the word “stallion” to describe himself, adding some very unambiguous body language, leaving nothing to the imagination. I did get a lot of Spanish practice today. Particularly, I got a lot of practice telling him NO. Fortunately the word is the same in English and Spanish and is recognized in most of the world as a negative response. Not so with Anibal! “Puedes venir a mi casa? Quieres venir a mi cama?” (Can you come to my house? Do you want to come to my bed?) While this is the best offer (of that sort) I’ve had in quite some time, I declined. Repeatedly. He’s a decade younger than I am, so my ego was slightly stroked. Though at the time I was far more wary that he wanted to stroke me!
I did get a free salsa lesson, Though if he stood any closer to me, he’d be behind me. At my age, you’d think I’d not see this behavior anymore. I, sadly, look a bit matronly. Certainly, not sexy. It was somehow frightening, insulting and nice. Odd.
In the end, my driver never came. Anibal offered to take me into the house. I was fairly sure I didn’t want to do that. He walked me to the edge of town and offered to take me to lunch. No, really, I was done being asked to come to his bed. It was hilarious the first time, but really annoying by the 12th. So he helped me get a cab (which I paid for, though transportation was supposed to be part of my tour).
During my day tour last week of Arequipa, I also got the opportunity to visit this monastery–which is still a working home for about 20 nuns! The Monastery of Saint Catherine is a monastery of nuns of the Dominican Second Order, located just a couple blocks from the Plaza de Armas. It was built in 1579 and was enlarged in the 17th century. The over 20,000-square-meter monastery was built predominantly in the Mudéjar style (Moorish or Muslim style as seen in the Iberian peninsula) and is characterized by its vividly painted walls of red, blue and gold. The nuns who still live here are in the northern corner of the complex; the rest of the monastery is open to the public.
Each family paid a dowry at their daughter’s admission to the monastery. The dowry expected of a woman who wished to enter as a choir nun–indicated by wearing a black veil—and who thereby accepted the duty of the daily recitation of the Divine Office, was 2,400 silver coins, equivalent to about $150,000 (U.S.) today. The nuns were also required to bring 25 listed items, including a statue, a painting, a lamp and clothes. The wealthiest nuns may have brought fine English china and silk curtains and rugs. Although it was possible for poorer nuns to enter the convent without paying a dowry, it can be seen from the cells that most of the nuns were very wealthy.