Arequipa

Arequipa, the White City, and second most populated in Peru, is, in opposition to her big sister Lima, a much quieter, calmer, enjoyable place to visit. It is surrounded by a variety of landscapes and associated outdoor activities: buggy in the desert, trekking in the mountains, hiking up and biking down volcanoes, and rafting down torrential rivers, but also boasts exciting cultural events and lively nightlife.

We arrived by night bus, tired and hungry! After replenishing on food and rest in the hostel rooftop hammacks all afternoon, we spent a few hours visiting Arequipa’s famous nunnery Santa Catalina.

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The next days for Renaud were spent trekking up the second highest -and also active- neighbouring volcano, El Misti (5800m), the other 2 being El Chachani and Picchu Picchu. This being a very hard climb in a very short time (3400m to 5800m in 24 hours!), added to the very high altitude, discouraged me from doing it, and righly so, as he was the only gringo out of a group of 10, who made it to the top! More on this in the next post…

–> Renaud returning from the trek, and view of El Misti volcano:

For me, the next few days were spent wandering around Arequipa’s markets, white-washed squares and layed-back veggie restaurants. Just before Renaud left, we also met up with Adrien (a French guy wet met in Huacachina) in a cafe on Plaza de Armas, where a Peruvian super-star and his entourage sat next to us on the balcony, with all his screaming fans screaming from below!

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I also visited the surrounding village and farmlands near Paucaparta. A very quaint church, cemetary, view on Arequipa and surrounding mountains, farming terraces and a group of schoolkids practicing for the Nativity play.

I also took advantage of a free, and exceptionally informative and well put-together exhibition at the Cultural Complex, on the most ancient and surprisingly advanced civilization in South America, the Caral, dating back to 5000BC. The Complex also featured a beautifully colourful, modern Peruvian-art exhibition, on the side. Finally, on the last day, I attended a conference-debate held by international journalists, hosted by the yearly Hay litterature festival at the Peruvian Cultural Center. The subject was the recent election of Donald Trump to the US presidency, and its daunting consequences for America, and the world…

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