ARRIVED IN THE WHITE CITY
We arrived in Arequipa 7am after a 9 hour bus ride. We were only able to sleep on and off. It was a long ride! The seats went back. You got a blanket and pillow. And there was a toilet but only for urinating. If you had to do the other, you had to let the steward know so they could make other arrangements.When we arrived to our hotel we showered, rested a bit and then had a tour of the city.
Arequipa is situated near 3 volcanoes: Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu. Some have snow on the top. Arequipa is built almost entirely from sillar, a white volcanic rock that is sparkly white. This is why it is called the white city. According to legend the city was founded when the fourth Inca, Mayta Capac camped there and his soldiers asked if they could stay back. He responded in Quenchua "ari, quepay" (yes, you may stay). In 1540, the Spanish re-founded the city. They built beautiful mansions. Now they are hotels or businesses.
Arequipa is Peru's second largest city, but it is the richest. It is a commercial hub for sheep and Alpaca wool exports. It has been rocked by earthquakes over centuries due to a geological fault line known as the "chain of fire".
We have come to this city to get acclimatized to the altitude (3,810m). Walking around the city helps with this. We walked to the "Plaza de Armas". Every city has one. It is the centre of the city and has a park where people can gather and talk. This one is one of Peru's best. You will always find a church in the Plaza. It is usually the biggest building. The Cathedral in the Plaza is one of the city's first built in the 17th century. It has survived many earthquakes.
We spent time exploring the Monastery of Santa Catalina, founded in 1580. It takes up an entire city block. It has 100 rooms, lined along 6 streets, 3 cloisters, a church and a gallery full of superb colonial paintings. At one time it housed 450 people; a third of them nuns and the rest servants! Today, more than 20 nuns live in the complex in an area that is off limits to visitors. It took 2 hours to walk through all the available rooms and streets!
We had dinner on a patio 5 floors up overlooking the lit up Plaza de Armas. It was cold outside due to the cities elevation so we were given ponchos to wear. We have an early rise tomorrow. We leave this beautiful city. We could have used more time here. There is so much to see!