We arrived at the border crossing in the evening, but we spent a lot of time there on passport control, which was prolonged by a breakdown and queues that stood still. We got on the bus only after dark.
Taxi from the bus station
We arrived in Arequipa in the morning. At the bus station, asking for directions to the center, we accidentally came across a taxi driver. For 15 soles he offered us a ride to the main square, where we could eat something and find a hostel. He had a normally marked taxi, a license and inspired our confidence, so we went straight away to get a little grip on the whole trip.
Such a view awaits us right after leaving the main station, where we got a taxi to the main square and went to look for breakfast, accommodation and a tourist office that organizes trips to the Colca Canyon.
Low buildings of Arequipa
Arequipa is one of the cities that you must visit when going to Peru. From this city we took a trip to the Colca Canyon. As we Poles live quite low above sea level, it would be worth starting here, because the city is located at an altitude of only 2325 m above sea level, which may be a good shock for some. However, let’s move on to what is beautiful in Arequipa. It is the second largest city, after Lima, and it differs radically. We are not by the ocean, but in the mountains, in the vicinity of two volcanoes that can be seen straight from the city. The buildings here are lower and there are no skyscrapers, as in the capital, which, despite the tourist climate, you want to stay here for longer.
Excursion to Colca Canion
After breakfast, we came to a tour desk, which was located in the same building. We chose a trip to Colca Canyon, with stops, among others, at the Condor’s Cross, where you could admire the majestic condors. Later, we had to go through the Canyon and the night in the oasis, and on the way back a stop in hot springs.
Transport in Arequipa
From what I have noticed, on the streets of Peru, there are few private cars and people often choose buses or taxis. In Arequipa, as in Lima, it can be said that formally there is no public transport here, because it is completely different from what we have in Poland. Here, the narrow streets are dominated by taxis, which constantly hunt for customers, and preferably for rich tourists. Throughout Peru, it is always a good habit to bargain with the driver or determine the direction of travel and the amount we want to spend, then we decide whether we get on or not. You can try it with a few taxis, and it will turn out that sometimes we will go for half the price, if we look a little.
Public transport for a European as if it did not exist here. There are no stops and no designated route, but hybrids usually know how a given bus runs. In practice, it works very efficiently, because probably in each bus there are two people working – a driver and a tout. The former, like the driver, drives the bus all the time, the latter plays an equally important role here. The tout, standing in the doorway, gathers people informing them where he is going. He also charges fees, which on the one hand are somewhere in a small print fixed, but usually it is “what grace” in the amount of 1 sole (when on the price list it can be 1.5 but someone may think that he will give only 1st ;))
Horns are often heard on the streets, so we are no longer surprised by signs about the ban on honking in certain places. Interestingly, almost everyone is honking here reflexively, and this on other drivers, and this on passers-by who could be picked up. People are already used to it.
Trade on the streets of Peru
Being in Peru, you do not have to look far to find a store where you can buy something to eat or drink. Already under the window of the hostel we had a small stall, where you could easily do shopping for the next day, buy water, snacks and even toilet paper.
On the main square you can meet shoeshines – people who deal with currency exchange and a lot of touts from tour offices and restaurants. One of these touts took us to his place when we were looking for breakfast at dawn and the streets were still empty. We didn’t expect it at that time.
One of the places we wanted to visit was the bazaar, where you could buy fruits, vegetables, meat and everyday items. The choice is huge, but the way of serving, for example, meat, does not encourage. With a fairly high temperature, everything lies on top and passing by, you can even rub yourself against a piece of raw meat.
On the plus side was the service of these stands, where the sellers did not encourage us to try, but immediately offered us so that we could see the taste. In this way, we tried some olives at one of the stands. They were delicious.
Fresh cocktails at the bazaar
However, we were more interested in the local fruits, which could be bought at stalls or ordered in the form of a cocktail. In this way, we could try several new flavors of local fruits on the spot, and at the same time see how they are prepared. The lady who made the cocktails was happy to show us how to extract the fruit from their shells. Then she mixed delicious cocktails from them.
Later, we tried something else that was supposed to be cool yogurt, or curdled milk with honey / syrup. I totally did not like it. The syrup was terribly sweet until it was bland. I couldn’t drink it.
Monastery of St. Catherine
The next stop of our sightseeing was the monastery, which is supposedly worth visiting. We managed to reach the junction, because you can spend a lot of time there, and we were about an hour before the ticket office closed for guests.
At first, the monastery seems very strange, because at the very beginning we saw “cells” in which young sisters are kept for the first years. It looks a bit like a prison. Small, black rooms and special windows through which they serve them food. In this way they were to learn to keep the vows of poverty. Apparently, it was an honor to go to this monastery.
Everything changes when the sisters get promoted and get better rooms that look cozier and are better equipped. The monastery is still very colorful. Orange and blue dominate there, which separates the monastery into two parts. The whole consists of over 100 separate rooms. Everything, often decorated with flowers, created a small, self-sufficient town.
I would like to write something more here, but I do not know much about styles in architecture, so I will only say that in my opinion I felt a bit like in a European city. The city looks like one of the capitals of Europe, but the view of mountains and volcanoes on the horizon breaks this picture. The city impresses with its architecture, we will not meet glass skyscrapers or office buildings here. The climate encourages you to stay here longer.
Maybe see the rest for yourself.