After a long 24 hours of airports and planes I’m finally in Arequipa, Peru at the start of an 11 day small group tour with Gate One Travel. We’re 12 people from different parts of the US and it seems to be a great group.
When we arrived in Arequipa we were met by Edgar Chuyca our tour Director, and a nice small bus with big windows! Perfect. We pulled up at the hotel too early to check in so we all trekked into Arequipa center to get acclimated and look for real food. Four of us broke off and had lunch at a cool place in a courtyard covered by umbrellas, I mean small white umbrellas hanging from wires above the court yard. It rarely rains in Arequipa at this time of year but it protected us from the hot sun. The food was wonderful – I had a shrimp soup (chupa el camaron) and a great cup of coffee. The coffee was to keep me awake so I wouldn’t fall asleep on the way back to the hotel.
We feel better with a little food in us. Dinner that night at the hotel was equally as good and I went right to bed. By that time I’d been awake for 34 hours – falling asleep was no problem!
Our hotel is the Arequipa Libertador. It’s gorgeous, with large pool, spa, gym …. and several llamas in the back gardens fertilizing and keeping the grass trimmed. Also an ancient turtle!
Saturday, July 6
Great sleep, refreshed and ready for touring today. Breakfast was a buffet with everything you could ask for and more great coffee – much needed at this point.
We started the day with Lilliana, our local guide, at the San Camillo market. A huge market full of colors and smells and activity. It was early morning so the vendors were opening up their stalls or eating breakfast. Lilliana stopped to fill us in on the 3000 different varieties of potatoes that are grown in Peru, and the fruits and vegetables that are completely new to me, beautiful colors and textures. A feast for the eyes. …..Well that was before we walked through the aisles of meats and fish! I mean sheep’s heads, guts, whole carcasses ready to be butchered. Where I strolled though the aisles of produce, I galloped though the meat section, felt better when we started through the herb aisle. The Peruvians take there medicine plants seriously.
Meanwhile I met three little girls sitting beside their mother’s stall playing with dolls and smiling. When I asked if I could take their picture they agreed then asked me to join them for another picture. I miss my Rhian!
I could’ve spent the day in the market but Edgar and Lilliana had more in store for us.
The Monastario Santa Catalina was
Very grateful I wasn’t born of Spanish nobility. I would have made a lousy nun!
The sun was brilliant all day and I took a slew of wonderful pictures, which I will have to transfer to a gallery soon.
The next highlight was the scenic shots we took of the volcanoes that are the back drop of this Cuidad Blanco.
All in all Peru is turning out to be even better than I imagined. Tomorrow our wake up call is 3am so we can get on the road to the Colca Canyon and the famous Condors. 3AM – no partying for me tonight!