Twenty-Six Days travel blog

Kitchens in the convent

A view of a cloister of Santa Catalina convent

I had trouble sleeping on the bus until about 2 AM. Then, gratefully, for some reason, I must have fallen into a light sleep. I don't remember anything else until 7:20 a.m. I am glad I slept so that the time passed quickly, but it was not a very restful sleep.

This day was spent in Arequipa. We got to the hotel at 9:30 a.m. Sand and I showered and then hit the town - the downtown core is compact enought to get around on foot. We had some food at a touristy shopping mall right before all the better choices of more local restaurants. Anyway, we made it to the Monaterio de Santa Catalina, and had a very informative tour regarding the grounds and the culture of the Dominican Order of Nuns throughout history. The convent was founded in 1579 and built in the style of spanish streets. 200 sequestered nuns once lived here. The higher classed nuns' families had paid a dowry for them to enter the convent. Lower classed nuns were those who had been abandoned to the church as infants. The nuns were not to be seen by the outside world, although rich families sent children to the convent to be taught by the nuns. In 1972, local authorities forced the sisters to change their infrastructure. Today, 30 clositered nuns live here and come to the order voluntarily.

I took many, many pictures at the convent and we spent a good deal of time there. I bought a chocolate truffle that the nuns make to sell. They also make cookies.

After leaving the convent, Sandra and I went to the Museo Santuarios Andinos, which we were informed by many a guide book held the remains of Juanita, The Ice Maiden, body of a child sacrificed by the Incas 500 years ago and found in 1995 after having been buried in ice for centuries. She was 13 years old at the time of her death.

Unfortunately, Juanita was not on display. She is apparently in storage for these months of the year to preserve her. We did obseve, Sanita, another girl, 16 years old at the time of her death, who had been sacrificed. Before being led into the display area of the museum, we were required to watch a documentary on the expedition that found Juanita. It was just Sandra and I in this cold, large theatre. Although the documentary was interested, both of us almost fell asleep while sitting there. We were then led into a dark, cold room - the museum was dark and cool to preserve the artifacts, but as we were summoned, really we could have wondered what we were being led in to :) Viewing the textiles, small carvings and dolls that had been found in the tombs, as well as the frozen body of Sanita - it was possible to gain some insight into the life and culture of these people. Children sacrificed were the best of the richest, aristocratic families.

Then for the most tragic and most funny part of our day as we headed back to our hotel. It seems in Arequipa, no one has seen fit to necessarily put a street sign on every street and as we dodged the numerous and tiny, unsttopping taxis we somehow missed our street. It was a long walk back anyway.

For dinner, we again, in contrast to our better judgement, accompanied our group for dinner. We were escorted by one of the waiters of a "gourmet" restaurant from our hotel to the restaurant.

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