The overnight bus to Arequipa was a smooth ride. As per usual, I only dozed
briefly so we were good and tired when arriving at the Flying Dog
Hostel well before checkin time. I took a nap
on the couch in the common area, and by then they’d gotten our room ready
(early) and we slept for a bit in our room. Our room was nice, but it had no
vents or windows so we had to keep the door open for a while every day to let
the damp shower air out.
We’d come to Arequipa with the plan to get me better, and it just happened.
Ever since we left Nazca I improved, and there never was a need to see a
doctor. The first few days I limited my intake to caldo (meat broth with
noodles, vegetables, and a little meat). Then we got to eat some of the tasty
food the city has to offer. This included alpaca steak (a little like pork, but
with a lighter flavor, and very tender), pizza (Italian style, with a fluffy
fruit juice mixes, and stuffed spicy bell pepper.
We spent almost all our time in Arequipa’s old downtown, which is full of old
buildings, narrow streets, wonderfully tall doors, tourists, and shops selling
items made from baby alpaca fur. It’s been funding trying restaurants, checking
out some old churches, and visiting a massive convent at night, which was
largely candle-lit. We would have preferred a daytime visit so we could see
better, but there was definitely some charm to experiencing the place in
I took some dance classes, so I haven’t carried my dance shoes all this time
for nothing. Facebook found me a dance
school that was really close
to where we were staying, so I showed up one night with the idea of scheduling
a private. I was there before the teacher, but somebody else was really early,
and gave my Spanish a good workout. 3 minutes before class the teacher (Jose)
showed up, and he convinced me to just join, so I got a 90-minute bachata
lesson, which is not a dance I’ve ever done. It went much better than I had any
right to expect. The class was almost entirely in Spanish, and interestingly
enough almost all the students (certainly all the follows) where not from Peru,
but were here to study, volunteer, or otherwise work. The next day I had a
2-hour private salsa lesson. Jose’s English is quite good, and that helped a
lot. In the private class we started at the beginning and I ended with the
feeling that I might be able to survive a social dance. That will be the next
We did wander out of downtown to a viewpoint one day. As it has several times,
Google Maps really simplified that walk. You can download sections of the map
to your phone which takes surprisingly little storage. (Lima, a city of 11
million people, fits in about 40MB.) I’ve barely used a paper map this trip,
and my phone is already loaded with the next several places we’ll be visiting.
It’s also wonderful to have on the bus, so I can have some idea of how much
longer (are we there yet?) we have to go.
In a continuing series of missing items, I apparently left my fleece somewhere
between home and here. It’s been hot almost all the time so I haven’t needed
it, but in Arequipa the weather has been cooler and I noticed. We replaced it
at a fancy outdoor store, and I got an alpaca hat which feels thinner than
necessary, but alpaca is supposed to be an amazing material so we’ll see when
it actually gets cold.