Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Years in the White City

The end of 2012 was wasted double checking the Mayan's math, trying to figure out where they screwed up. With no luck, I decided to leave it in the "oops" column, get out of my bunker, and jump on a bus to Arequipa (8 hours to Lima, 14 hours to Arequipa... my butt still hurts).

Arequipa, is the farthest south in Peru where Peace Corps stations volunteers, and is a very impressive department. Ancash has some pretty cool stuff, but Arequipa doesn't lack at all. They have nice beaches, great food, very interesting historical and cultural spots (I got to see 'Juanita the Mummy' , no photos were allowed), the Colca Canyon (the world's deepest canyon,, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon), and cool adventure sports, like climbing and whitewater rafting.

My time was mainly spent in two areas: the sea-side city of Camana (Richard and Kim, Peru 17ers site), and in Arequipa city (3-4 hours inland). My time in Camana had one main purpose, hit the beach. Which I did; however, the ocean was kind of cold, and there was a noticeable undertow, making swimming a little challenging. It was a good time, as volunteer friends from all over the country arrived and we celebrate the start of 2013 correctly. The following are a few pictures and videos of the beach.

Matt (17er from Ica) shows off his new look that he got while playing beach football. Who knew a broken pinky toe gets you a full cast (side note: he went to the local hospital and had to pay as he went. Meaning before they put the cast on him, he need to go buy the cast materials first... how's that work for an emergency surgery?)

Kerry and Ryan teaching me how to play it cool. 

Group shot. 

Camana beach

This bird was doing the same thing we were. Sun bathing. 

Ali shows no fear of bird flu.

Keren and the bird. 

As for the videos, one video is in Spanish for Roger and Dina, but it shows how packed the beach was. The fishing video shows my gear that I bought in the town's market (some fishermen I met earlier that day told me where to buy it, and how to fish in the ocean, so I gave it a shot... but didn't catch a thing).

Arequipa City was my last stop before returning home to Ancash. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to completely see the area (I missed the Colca Canyon, condors, and climbing), but I plan on returning some day to see it right. I did have time to see the other 'Sarita', Juanita's (see the above link) replacement while she is being re-frozen for 4 months out of the year. i also toured a famous monastery in the middle of the city near our hotel.

The monastery was once considered a party monastery. The Spanish would send their 2nd born off to serve the church, and this was the place in the New World were the rich girls would go to live it up. They were known to sneak in booze, throw parties, and have their own servants. This lasted until a head nun for the Dominican Republic cracked down in the late 1800s. The monastery is still in operation, and was forced by the city government to start giving tour in the '70s. We went on the night tour, which was really pretty, but not too many of my photos turned out.

Besides these two tours and whitewater rafting (which impressively ended in the middle of town, 4 blocks away from our hostel./No pictures take to due to camera safety concerns), I just spent the rest of my time taking in the sites, people watching (this is part of the 'gringo trail' - Cusco, Puno, Arequipa- so there were tons of tourist to observe) and eating great food. Now for the pictures:

The Plaza de Arma of Arequipa. Said to be one of the most beautiful plazas in Peru. Puede ser/ Could be.

Kyle, Matt and Kerry making the plaza more beautiful. 
Night shot of the plaza. L to R: Brice, Kyle, KCM (Peru 18ers), Kerry, and Ryan.

Kerry in the outside courtyard of the monastery. 

Entering the monastery, one word says it all. Silence. 

It was pretty cool seeing the monastery at night.

L to R: Kerry, Brice, Kyle, Ryan, and Matt.

Our attempt at Shiva.

Sunset over Arequipa.

Brice, Arequipa, and a sunset.
The nevados above the city in the late afternoon sun. 

The monastery in the sunset.

Another sunset.

This is the the arco iris/rainbow that showed up my last night in Arequipa. All of these are taken from the roof of our hostel.

Me and the rainbow.

It was pretty impressive, but who would have thought that the pot of gold was that close!