Day 61 – Dancing in the street

Today marks a milestone of “The Big Trip (TM)”.  Day 61 marks the fact we have completed a third of our planned 6 month journey around S.America and S.E.Asia.

It feels weird. I many respects it has flown by, but at the same time it feels a long time ago since we were in the UK.  The human minds interpretation of time can be a bit schizophrenic at time I think.

This blog is mainly for us to reflect on what we have done and seen, and for family and friends to keep in touch.  I hope that it accurately represents the fact that we are simply loving the adventure as it unfolds, though we do miss the people we care about and love.

Nothing tells you are travelling than waking up on a bus, initially not sure what country you are in.  A decidedly average breakfast with not the worst cup of tea ever and you remember you are in Peru heading for Arequipa.

After a brief few days at sea level we are back at altitude and will now remain so until we have competed the Inca Trail. So hopefully we have plenty of time to acclimatise and will have not lost too much of what we would have got used to in Quito.

The city is described as one of the most beautiful in Peru (though I think lacks the UNESCO seal of approval), but as you approach by bus it looks like other ‘pretty’ cities in South America have done to date, that is, not living up to expectations (though we see a BMW dealership that couldn’t look more out of place if it tried).  However, as with Salta, Potosi, Surcre etc. before, as you get closer you realise why Arequipa has the reputation it does.

It is another beautify city, and its only a short walk from our accommodation to the the main square – perhaps the most beautiful we have seen in all of S.America so far.  Hunger is more pressing than the need to sightsee at the moment and we press on to a recommended eatery but are suddenly are stopped in our tracks by a procession of colour and noise approaching us.

For the next 30 minutes we stand and watch as floats, marching bands and groups of traditional dancers (the range of indigenous clothing and dancing is remarkable) troupe past in celebration of the local mercardo, which depending on which banner you read is celebrating is 130th or 133rd anniversary.  Thankfully as its the local market goers celebrating, our hunger is managed by catching the various produce they throw to the crowds in celebration.

And I mean throw.  If you don’t keep you wits about you, you’ll easily get side swiped by a toffee, lolly pop, apple, dog food (yes, really) or even cheese.  Someone throwing cheese at you?  That’s not very mature is it 🙂 ?

We grab lunch at the recommended creperie (thank you Lousisa!) and enjoy wonderful food and slightly slow service.  I’ll let them off as they sold Pale Ale – a decent beer for the first time since Puerto Natales.

The elongated lunch means that we cannot make the ‘free walking tour’ so Niki decides to take the map and create one.  The last time Niki did this was in Rio de Janerio where we got a close view of a military installation and domestic airport.

This time we see a newly constructed flyover, some rubble, and a couple of urine soaked underpasses.  Not sure there is a career in tourism for Niki in the future…

In trying to get back to a nice part of town we stubble upon Monde Alpcac (Alpaca World).  A mixture of free museum and high end shops selling products made from Alpaca wool.  We like it a lot, from the group of Alpacas munching food around the nativity scene, to the ladies doing some weaving (very similar to ladies we saw in Sucre, Bolivia).  They are even brave enough to let Nik have a go, so it you are in Arequipa in 6 weeks time (they take a long time to make) you might get a bargain in the ‘seconds bin’ (“one of two missed stitches”).

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