Blame It on the A A A A the Altitude… Arequipa, Peru

Posted by on Jan 19, 2013 in Peru, Play-by-plays, South America | 0 comments

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I thought we’d spend 1 night in Arequipa. But we spent 3. No wonder the name means “Yes, Stay” in Quechua. But the city doesn’t deserve all the blame. It was Friday and we stayed at the Wild Rover, which is known to be a party hostel (staying there in La Paz as well so we shall see what happens).

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We started the day very classily by taking a cooking class with Peruvian Cooking Experience at the Casa de Avila Hotel. Arequipa is famous for its nuances of Peruvian Cuisine, and tends to have spicier dishes as well as a wider range of seafood (due to its relatively close location to the Pacific), which was a nice break from typically bland Andean comida tipica. We first went to a local market and perused all the local delicacies. There are more types of potatoes there than anyone can name, and the varitety of fruit is mind boggling. That obviously was my favorite part. The fruit and avocados are to die for. I even bought some to eat later. Sidenote: photo above should be captioned “Things that would kill Yus”.

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In the class, we all worked together to make Rocoto Relleno (stuffed rocoto pepper), a typical Andean dish. Rocoto is a type of pepper that is so spicy that it is boiled three times just to make it palatable and even then it still packs heat. We also made a salad and a Pastel de Papa (potato pie). The class setting was perfect–an outdoor kitchen in the hotel’s garden. And we got to enjoy eating the lunch al fresco as well.

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After a very filling meal, we proceeded to our Pisco Sour class where we got a bit of the history of Pisco and the Peru/Chile contention over the ownership of the drink and of course we got to make our own to see what combination of ingredients tastes better. As with anything, practice makes perfect so we made sure we followed the adage and practiced a lot.

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The next day, Yus and I explored Arequipa on our own. I visited the Convento de Santa Catalina (35sol), which is almost a city within a city and only a small part of it is still a functioning convent. The little streets were charming, but the room interiors just reminded me of any other religious institution. I also stopped by the Casa de Moral(5sol), an old colonial mansion-turned-museum which has really cool maps of South America from centuries ago as well as a sweet numismatic exhibit of the history of Peruvian currency (the fx geek in me liked this a lot!). Apparently there is also a frozen mummy named Juanita at another museum, but she is currently on break and replaced by another mummy so I skipped seeing her and just enjoyed wandering the white stone streets (Arequipa is also known as the “White City”).

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Yus went a bit off the beaten path and checked out Sachaca, a neighborhood from which you get an amazing panorama of Arequipa and El Misti Volcano (which is still active). You can actually do a 2day trek up El Misti, and while it is not technically difficult, it starts at about 3k meters and goes up to near 6k so altitude becomes a factor…the ole breathing thing …so we decided to skip out on that adventure.

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Speaking of adventures, after exploring the city and enjoying Saturday night at the bar (and watching the NFLplayoffs…Go Niners!), we got picked up at the crisp hour of 3am to head to Colca Cayon for our 2day trek.

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