Following the ridiculous breakfast of OMG-I'M-SO-HUNGRY-FEED-ME-NOW, we went in search of posh chocolates, and then to a lunch that lasted until about 3.30pm. But we didn't really care, because the views around Arequipa are pretty spectacular:
From there, we went on a tour of the Santa Catalina monastery, which was at its peak in the 18th century (I think...). It was really pretty, but it made everyone angry. Apparently there were two classes of nuns living there. The rich ones were the daughters of the nobility and paid the equivalent of $150,000 to be there, and had posh stuff and servants. If the servants had children, those children became the nun's personal property. The other class were the poor nuns, who actually felt they'd been called by God to become a nun. These nuns had nothing, and had to beg the rich nuns for use of their private kitchen facilities to even be able to eat. So...yeah. Angry stabby feelings. But it really is pretty!
|Okay, you can't really tell from this photo. Apparently I|
was feeling too stabby to take many photos there...
After the Monastery of Stabbiness, we went to the Arequipa museum, where we saw an exhibition that included the mummy of a teenage girl who was sacrificed by the Incas. Sadly, I have no photos of the mummy, so this shot from the Buffy episode "Inca Mummy Girl" will have to suffice!
|Source. Also, the mummy looked nothing like this.|
After all of that, the group somehow decided that going to a restaurant for dinner sounded far too much like hard work. So we ended up eating a dinner of Ritz crackers and cheese and Sublime chocolate bars on the roof of the hotel. And it was AWESOME. (Especially the Sublimes)
The following day, we had a stupidly long bus ride from Arequipa to Chivay. There were lots of stops along the way to look at vicuñas and frozen waterfalls and volcanoes and whatnot.
|Mountain + conveniently located vicuña = purdy pictures|
By the time we reached Chivay, we'd climbed about 1,300m in altitude (5,300 feet) and I was starting to feel a little altitude sickness-y. WHEEEEEE, DIZZINESS AND NAUSEA!!!! Which is how I ended up having flat Inca Kola for lunch...
After lunch, we headed out to a nearby hot springs. To prepare us for the whole walking 40km at altitude thing that was coming up in a week or so (aka the Inca Trail), they dropped us 2kms from the hot springs and made us walk in. Public service announcement: Do not think that you can save time by wearing your board shorts UNDER YOUR JEANS. It is enormously uncomfortable when you then discover that you have to walk 2km... (I do these things so you don't have to.) Once we eventually arrived, the hot springs were amazing. But getting out of the steaming hot water after 4.5 hours? That part was a suckfest and a half...
The next morning, we got up at stupid o'clock and spent an hour and a half on a mini-bus on dirt roads heading to Colca Canyon. And when we arrived, we had a 20 minute wait in freezing temperatures before the highlight of Colca Canyon showed any signs of moving. But when they did? ZOMG AMAZINGNESS. Andean condors are enormous and wonderful to watch, and a point-and-shoot camera does not do them justice. SIGH:
|Witness the size of the condors compared to the people. They. Are. ENORMOUS.|
After a good hour or so of watching condors, we got back on the bus, and headed back to Arequipa, via Chivay. Somewhere along the way, we stopped in a town where you could pose with an eagle on your head for the equivalent of 30 cents:
|Quality derp face. He shall remain nameless to protect what remains of his dignity.|
While en route back to Arequipa, we went through the highest point on our trip - 4,910m above sea level (16,108 feet). Walking the short distance from the bus to the plaque for photos was something of a challenge.
|Unflattering photo at 4,910m above sea level. I do have hair. I promise.|
I blame the altitude for me deciding that what I desperately needed to spend money on was a Peruvian blanket. Because what you REALLY need to carry around for the remaining 7.5 weeks of a 9 week trip is A SODDING BLANKET. (Public service announcement: Do not buy a blanket. I have never EVER used this blanket. It's very pretty. But it's also very pointless. And very very scratchy...)
Ahem. Upon returning to Arequipa, we went to dinner and then to a bar. Ness and I ordered pina coladas. They were completely vile, as they were made with about 25% rum, 25% pineapple juice, and 50% coconut cream. GAG. The switch to drinking Not Cocktails was understandably fairly swift.
At some point, the overwhelming number of Australians in the group meant that we turned into a giant pack of bogans. And when a giant pack of bogans is drinking while overseas, it leads to the singing of this:
Next up, Puno, Lake Titicaca, and we discover our Spanish is terrible when we go on a homestay.