I arrived in Arequipa a week ago on the overnight bus from Lima. When I booked the ticket they told me it would take 15 hours, a brochure at the bus station said 16 hours – it actually took 18 hours. I had a semi cama seat which in the pictures look alright. In reality the seat was that small it rendered the footrest useless (for me anyway). I was also sitting at the very front on the bus upstairs in a window seat so I had no way to stretch my legs out the entire journey. I could have cried when I eventually stood up by body had seized up that much!
After the first week of classes (20 hours) I have to say my head hurts! Classes are one-on-one from 9am till 1pm with a short break in the middle. I have 2 different teachers each day – Beatriz for grammar first up and Jeanett for communication. The classes are held in the garden of Casa de Avila which creates a very relaxed atmosphere. One day I have the garden’s resident tortoise take a liking to the spot under my table! It was kind of awkward as I spent half the lesson sitting sideways but classes in the garden is a bit of a novelty – if only the 12 years of school were like this! My favourite class the in the communication with Jeanett. I prefer talking about real stuff and things rather than making up endless sentences in grammar. I’ve learnt a lot but think I’ve probably forgotten more than what I’ve remembered!! I’m looking forward to learning more in next weeks classes.
Apart from being at school, doing homework and studying, I’ve spent a bit of time wandering around the city centre – seeing the many churches. Arequipa is Peru’s second largest city after Lima but it is very different in appearance. The streets and pavements are cobblestone and the buildings are all made of stone. Basically it reminds me more of a European city which is also reflected in the food and residents, hence the nickname “the white city”.
One afternoon I joined a walking tour around the city which was quite interesting. I learnt more about the history of the city and it’s given me a list of museums to visit next week!
Arequipa has some had some pretty amazing sunsets this week. One evening I went to a rooftop terrace bar for a drink at sunset. The bar directly overlooks Plaza de Armes and gave for some really great views.
As I don’t have classes on weekends, I used this time to get out and try one of the many “adventure” activities Arequipa has to offer…. I went rafting on the Chilli River. The river actually runs right past downtown Arequipa but we travelled a little while out of the town to hit the rapids. It was mainly class 2 and 3 rapids but there was a couple of class 4 rapids towards the end. The scenery from the river was amazing. The beautiful snow capped Chachani kept coming into view behind us as we rafted down.
The views of Chachani and Misti from town are enchanting. I’m starting to understand those who become “obsessed” with Misti.
I’ve also done a bus ride which I disliked immensely for being so touristy but it did give me a chance to get out of downtown and see something else other than Plaza de Ames. The bus took us to Plaza de Yanhuara, Mansión del Fundador (an early example of colonial housing) and Molino de Sabandia (a former mill).
See fully gallery here.