Thursday, February 10, 2011

Arequipa, Peru ~ Easygoing, scenic, killer architecture


Anyone who has ever been to Peru will tell you they fell hopelessly in love.

This is the South America of legend. Women in classic hats and babies in back satchels. Plazas that echo a colonial past...with an indigenous fervor. Shy, smiling, curious faces. A relaxed pace of life.

Holding its own to the lights and sexuality of Lima, and the epic beauty of Cusco and her Sacred Valley, Arequipa is an authentic Peruvian city-town in the south, and she will charm you with her wiles ... beautiful, outdoorsy, sensual, sociable.





You'll enjoy the ride.




I arrived in sunny Arequipa from Chile. After libatious Santiago and bohemian Valparaiso, Arequipa was a reconnection to América del Sur auténtica.

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The first look at the central Plaza de Armas, and one is reminded somewhat of Cusco... albeit with a slight swagger. The women are fashionably sexy to Cusco's conservatism, the men a bit more Don Juanish, the weather a perennial spring to Cusco's mountainous cool.



Plaza de Armas



The name Arequipa may have come from the Aymara people, where "ari" meant 'summit' and "quipa" was "laying behind". Famous volcanoes like El Misti are visible behind the cathedral right from Palza de Armas.




Arequipanos simply relax in the Plaza, watching their kids play, and observing foreigners curiously.




This is how life should be. No worries.


Beautiful dresses are worn with pride by Arequipenas on special occasions.



La Ciudad Blanca

Fairly high up at 2300 m in the desert mountains of the Andes, Arequipa's historic buildings are made out of sillar, a white volcanic stone, lending the name 'White City' or 'la Ciudad Blanca' to this city of one million people.

la Ciudad Blanca












Countryside

Step out five miles from the Plaza de Armas, and you're in open country - horses, llamas, villas, farms.

Molina de Sabandia







The sights, so normal to the denizens, a banquet for tourists.




Peru delights, with its simplicity.







Is this even real?




A beauty so rustic, it is sublime. 





Every turn of the head uncovers magic for visitors in visual stupor.






Molina de Sabandia is beautiful countryside, replete with horse riding through hills, valleys and crystal clear mountain creeks.






And if you thought the fun ended here, let me tell you. Ever been inside a 430 year old convent, preserved like it was yesterday? 


MONASTERIO DE SANTA CATALINA



Founded in 1580 by a rich widow, Maria de Guzman, the convent followed the tradition of wealthy families from Spain where the second daughter would become of the faith.

This was no ordinary convent. Families paid a dowry of up to today's $50,000 for their kids to dedicate themselves to service, but also live a lavish lifestyle replete with parties, concerts,  and servants.

























Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to AREQUIPA. Stay a while.