A Quick Trip in Arequipa: Day One
Friday morning I was giddy to wake up around sunrise and head over to the airport. I had arrived through this airport in June and not left the Amazon in those two months. My flight to Lima was fairly quick and uneventful, but I did appreciate that Peruvian Airlines gave us a sandwich, a muffin, and a drink (coffee with milk :) ) even though its a 1.5 hour flight and they charge the lowest prices of all of the airlines.
Once in the Lima airport, I headed upstairs to find Mitra posted up outside Starbucks with a lifetime supply of luggage (ok some of it was study supplies). I was struck with crazy reverse culture shock being in the Lima airport. It was weird!!! I hadn't been around so many white people in 2 full months, basically no Iquiteños speak english, and the food, clothing, and other goods options are very limited in Iquitos because of the difficulty transporting goods to this area. All the cafes, unlimited delicious food options, tons of people, Americans and Europeans, shiny things- I was completely overwhelmed. Add onto that we only had one hour in the airport before our next flight and I had already had several cups of coffee.
After I decided on Dunkin Donuts as my special American treat and loaded up on more sugar and caffeine, Mitra and I went together to catch our next flight to Arequipa! We made friends with our seatmate on the plane and talked the whole 1 hour 10 mins to the Andes, giving me a chance to start practicing my translating ;) . On my solo return flights I sat next to some more chatty people, which is actually a great opportunity for me to practice my Spanish as they come from different places in South America and have varying accents and word choice preferences.
Getting off the plane in Arequipa was amazing! Fresh air, cool breeze, and volcanoes directly behind us! During our taxi ride down to our hostel near the Plaza de Armas, we took note of all the nice restaurants, cafes, small parks, and stores the city had to offer. Our feelings for the city grew only stronger as the weekend went on and we saw more of Arequipa. The climate was so much cooler and dryer than the jungle, the sun was always shining, and Arequipa is apparently the cleanest city in Peru. Old architecture, brick roads, and always in view of a mountain or volcano. I didn't want to leave!
Friday night we rested, ate delicious Andean potatoes, and had a drink before passing out. Mitra had traveled for 24 hours straight and I'm just always tired in Peru.
Saturday morning we had planned to go to Colca Canyon on our own, I'd rather take a public bus and head out on our own than overpay for a super-structured tour. But, due to misinformation we ended up missing the last bus out. Not too upset because we wanted to explore the city more, we headed out to a look-out spot on top of a hill where you can see the whole city and the mountains/volcanoes. Mitra had her first pisco in Peru before we went to a traditional Arequipeño restaurant.
Pisco Maracuya Sour and Maracuya Chilcano
As recommended by some of you, we hit up the 3 pm free walking tour of the city. I was fairly bored during most of it but it was still worth going to see all the different areas we wouldn't have wandered to otherwise, and we learned how to identify real baby alpaca from fake. Also, I volunteered as taste tester for some local alcoholic beverages so I got a free shot and a drink ;)
Sunday morning we ate breakfast at the hostel, they gave us bread with a delicious orange marmalade, fried eggs, cantaloupe juice, and coffee/tea - a pretty impressive spread for a hostel, and best of all we got to enjoy it on the rooftop terrace with a view of most of Arequipa and the surrounding mountains. Then, we headed off to our rafting trip!
We discussed for a while what we would wear, but turns out they give you a full outfit of wetsuit, long sleeve waterproof jacket, helmet, and shoes.
IT WAS AWESOME Puno later ...