Arequipa, Arequipa, Peru Wednesday, June 17, 2015
The plan today was to wander the streets of the Arequipa, known as the 'white city' due to all the white buildings around the place. Instead we were woken at 6:45am by our bus coming to a complete stop. About 2km from the township of Cruza de La Roya. Turns out that the people of this township had closed the main street in and out of the town, and now traffic is backed up on both sides.
While we waited for the block to clear, we decided to take a little walk up to the blockade to see what was actually going on. The main road was closed off by people wanting a new hospital in their town. Their hope was that by closing the road they would cause so much disruption that the mayor would come down and they would be able to talk to him about it. They used rocks on the road, branches covered in large thorns and lit fires.
It was like a scene from a movie where you know as soon as a rock is thrown that a riot will break out, thankfully that didn't happen. Instead we waited for about 5:45 hours they finally cleared the road, after a member of the city council came down and they agreed to discuss everything with them... It had only taken 2 years, amazing what blocking 1 road for a few hours an achieve. While we did miss half our day in in Arequipa, we still did get an experience that not everyone can say they did.
As we arrived in Arequipa which is at an altitude of about 2400 meters above sea level. As we arrived so late we didn't get much time to do much, but as some people hadn't eaten in 24 hours and the rest of us were fairly hungry too. We headed off to get some lunch at a nearby restaurant. It was a little confusing at first as they had about 4 different menus (seafood, pizza, local cuisine and then the desserts & drinks menu). But once we found a menu that suited each of us we were rather quick at deciding on what we wanted. As we sat there waiting for our food, I think my mouth was drooling just thinking about what we were getting. Out the food came, there was a lot of envy from us all as were looked at each other's meal, each of them looking fantastic, then the food became rather quiet for a few moments as we all started to stuff our faces. My gosh that was a good meal.
We then headed off to take around some of the churches, one of them right next the main square which was just full of pigeons everywhere. People feed them here, whereas in Lima it is illegal to feed the pigeons. The big church has the outside walls made from volcanic stone, which I expect wouldn't be to hard to find seeing they have three mountain ranges around here, one of which is still active... Apparently if it erupted now, it would only take to 15 seconds to wipe us out.
We then were taken and shown an old school which use to be used for the wealthy, which is now just used as a tourist attraction with a few cafes setup inside it.
It was then off to the supermarket to grab some food for tomorrow before we got back to our rooms.
I was so tired I just wanted to hit the bed and sleep and it was only 6:30pm, but as everyone else was heading out I figured I'd better follow suit and headed out to join them. We got to a local bar where Brazil were playing Croatia in soccer, so we sat down and watched that over a couple of drinks. It's certainly noticeable how much the altitude has an affect on your drinking ability, but really it just meant we didn't need to drink as much.
It was then back to our rooms to get a semi early night before our next trip early tomorrow.
Where I stayed
Hostal Arequipa Inn - Rivero 412 , Arequipa, Peru