Tairona Inca: Colombia and Peru in 2 Weeks
Day 16: Departing Colca Canyon for Arequipa by shuttle and arriving in the city center for some sight seeing at the Monasterio de Santa Caterina.
The group convened for a well presented a la carte breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Right after, the hotel helped arrange an 11 a.m. minibus to Arequipa.
We then participated in the baby alpaca and llama feeding. A caretaker brought the animals to the main lawn area and gave us milk bottles to feed them. The two llamas and several alpacas were large but only seven months old and still drank milk. They couldn’t get enough of it. They even started nipping at our clothing when the milk went dry. What a unique experience!
Soon after, we took a taxi to Chivay’s bus station where we did a bit of shopping before catching our bus. There was a protest going on in front of the government building in the main square.
Bus from Chivay to Arequipa
The minibus was really mini and every seat was sold, meaning we were packed in like sardines. The driver helped stow our luggage on the roof rack.
The driver deftly handled the mountain curves and took us nonstop to the station in Arequipa.
Leaving the familiar mountain scenery, we found the environment turned very arid and dusty. Vegetation disappeared in the desert like area.
In front of some factory, we passed hundreds of riot police with shields and batons ushering civilians away and dispersing crowds. Armored vehicles were parked and ready on the side of the road. The situation was quite tense.
We passed a flipped truck which wasn’t actually too badly damaged.
Then we entered the shady outskirts of Arequipa and soon arrived at the bus station.
From there we asked an attendant to call a taxi for us and a tiny yellow cab showed up that we could barely squeeze into.
He took us into the central square which immediately seemed safer and more affluent.
We checked into and dropped off our luggage at Los Tambos, just a short walk from the main square, Plaza de Armas.
For lunch we walked a few blocks to Carpaccio a trendy restaurant offering soups, salads, wraps and pastas.
Monasterio de Santa Caterina
This is an old Dominican nunnery from centuries ago. History
We walked through and got a guided tour. A kind eyed rotund lady took us through the monastery pointing out the important rooms and view points. (20 sol)
It was very beautiful inside with monochromatic walls of red and blue and intricate paintings in the niches.
The nuns all slept under arches to be protected by the earthquakes.
They also had stone filter systems for drinking water, an indoor well, and an innovative laundry system.
The relics left by previous nuns over the years were interesting and many seemed to be valuable antiques.
One hall held a large collection of religious paintings.
As we completed the tour a sudden rainstorm started and we rushed back to the hotel.
I wanted to check out the cathedral in the square, but unfortunately it was closed.
Back at the hotel, we toasted to our successful trip with a glass of wine before departing for the airport. I was to leave that day back to New York.
Unfortunately, Arequipa flights did not seem very reliable. The airport was very disorganized and updates were rare. Security was a simple pat down because the power was out so the X-ray machines weren’t functioning. I tried to relax in the small VIP lounge.
After delays and hours of waiting, I found that my Avianca flight was also canceled due to “weather”. Strangely other flights were still arriving and departing…
So the entire flight had to retrieve luggage, line up and check in for tomorrow morning’s flight. People were reaching their limits with shouting and fighting in the line.
I had dinner at a restaurant in the airport while contemplating my options. At this point they were quite limited. Instead of a night in Lima, I had one in Arequipa. Ah, the city didn’t want me to leave!
Back in town, I surprised my family who had a good laugh at my misfortune. Little did they know, they would have the pleasure to experience the same situation a day later!
The next morning I caught a taxi at 5:30 a.m. to the airport.
Not surprisingly the flight was delay, but not canceled! The business class itinerary to New York via Lima was at least comfortable.
The Avianca Airbus 330 had lay flat seats and even a lumbar massage option in the chair.
Peering out the window at the sea of clouds, I couldn’t believe the journey was over. Peru was an incredible adventure, one that everyone should experience in their lifetime.