Arequipa and Culco Canyon
Howdy all. I’ve around an hour before I need to leave for my bus to Cusco, so I thought I’d quickly bash out a blog entry so that I leave Arequipa up to date. Arequipa is a pretty pleasant town all said with two major attractions, the Santa Catalina Monastery, and the mumified remains of Juanita, an Incan sacrifice dating back a few hundred years that was sacrificed to a volcano, and then preserved there only to pop out when the volcano erupted.
The main cathedral in town is at the Plaza Des Armes, and is very large with two arches outside at each end. The square itself is fairly pleasant and a hub of tourist activity for those who visit. Loads of tour operators, restaurants and tourist information services can be found there. It’s also a great place to people watch and soak in Arequipa life.
The Santa Catalina Monastery is amazing. It’s huge and pretty much all of it is open to the public to explore. You’re also allowed your camera which has been an issue is some places in Ecuador and Peru. You can while away the time there exploring every cell, nook and cranny. Learn about Saint Ana from the convent/monastery who was beatified by Pope John Paull II. Marvel at the cloisters and the kitchens, the place must have made enough bread to feed half of Peru in its day. Or you might be taken by the fact that by God, the Catholic Church has never been short on funds.
Now, Juanita. Have you ever seen a real mummy? Juanita was sacrified on Mount Ampato between 1450 and 1480 at the age of somewhere between eleven and fifteen in the hope that the gods would look favourably on the Incas and prevent any serious eruptions from happening. At the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries she is top billing. And no, no photos were allowed.
For me it was all about the mummy, but first there was the video and a tour showing pots and cloths and other artefacts before the big reveal. In a glass case regulated at minus 20 degrees, this tiny girl is there, mummified by the cold and the volcanic properties of the ash and rock I guess. Amazing.
Today I had to get up a couple of hours before stupid o’clock for my three thirty pickup for a trip the Colco Canyon. Three hours away, the bus first took us to see condors flying in the canyon. We saw there – but very far away. No good for photos. The tour was mostly just being dropped off at different viewing points and taking photos of the amazing landscape, including this uncredibly deep canyon and various volcanoes. A few llamas and al pacas – incidently had some al paca for lunch. Passed on the guinea pig. There was a stop at some hot springs too, the views were incredible and at one point we were 4900 metres above sea level which may be the highest I’ve ever been.