Archive for July, 2007

Nearby Arequipa

On Wednesday, July 25, we took a tour called the “Countryside Tour” We first visited two nearby suburbs to visit their main plazas and the churches there. Both the churches that we saw had Inca-baroque facades: intricate designs carved into the white volcanic stone, but instead of being European designs the designs were of Inca plants, animals and gods. We visited several great viewpoints on the tour. The best view was from a place called El Mirador where a tall structure was erected. After climbing the many stairs to its top, we had a great view of the valley with the city in the bottom, the tall volcanic mountains to the east and the dry lower hills to the west. The tour stopped at a woolen shop that sells clothing made of the wool of the local animals (Llamas, Alpacas, and Vicuñas). Outside the shop were pens with examples of the four types of cameloid animals that provided the wool: llamas, alpaca, vicuñas, and guanacos. A little girl and her mother had arrived about the same time as we did. The girl, about 3 years old, was dressed in native clothing and her mother was trying to get photos of her in front of the animals. Of course, the tour members also wanted her photo too.

We visited the 17th century colonial estate, La Mansión del Fundador. It is really a museum today and is well furnished in period pieces. The small chapel is sometime used for weddings. Our last stop was to El Molino de Sabandia. This mill was constructed in 1621 for grinding corn, wheat and rice and has an interesting horizontal water wheel below the grinding wheels. The thickness of the gap between the grinding wheels can be adjusted by raising or lowering the water wheel so that various grains can be ground appropriately. The mill had fallen into disrepair, but in 1973 was restored. The grounds form a nice park; two girls on our tour opted for horseback riding rather that museum viewing.

Convents, Monastaries and Churches

Arequipa has many interesting churches and cloisters. The Cathedral takes over one side of the main plaza and the front door fronts the plaza but enters into the side of the sanctuary. It is constructed of the white volcanic rock (sillar) and was rebuilt after the many earthquakes, finally being strengthened enough that the earthquake of 2001 only caused damage to the two towers. Both inside and out the church is white, making for a light interior.

The Convent of Santa Catalina, not far from the main plaza is like a city in itself. The convent as founded in 1579, not long after the city. The buildings are constructed of the same white volcanic stone as the rest of the old city. In its early days the families of the novices (girls training to become nuns) constructed the rooms for their daughters. Most of the early habitations contained two rooms and a kitchen. The girls brought servants with them. In later years it was decreed that each girl could have only one servant and later on a central kitchen and dining room were constructed where the girls ate together. Because of the way the convent was constructed – little by little – there is no obvious organization to it. There are several narrow streets among the nun’s cells and a few larger rooms, as well as the church which are set aside and separate from the main sanctuary for the girl’s worship.

Another of the many monasteries in the city is La Campañia de Jesus. It is just off one corner of the central square and the cloisters now hold small shops and offices but the archways of the plazas and the cloisters have been thus preserved.

Museums in Arequipa

While in Arequipa we have visited several museums, the most famous being the museum holding “Juanita, the Ice Princess”. She is an over-500-year-old mummy of a 14 year old girl sacrificed by the Incas. She had been buried in the cold on the top of Mount Ampato. Her grave contained many other artifacts, some of which were also displayed in the museum. Since finding her, three other sacrificed children have also been recovered on the mountain. Small figurines, pottery, and wonderfully preserved clothing was recovered with the mummies. The clothes that they were wrapped in, as well as the elaborately woven tunics that they wore, were very well preserved in the cold dry mountain top.

Two other museums that we visited were in the cloisters of monasteries. The one we visited at San Francisco, a Jesuit monastery, held religious objects from Arequipa’s early years. It was made more interesting as we had a very interesting guide guiding us thru it. The other museum was a surprise!! We had walked across the river (Rio Chili) that runs thru the center of the city, to check out a church (La Recoleta) with red towers that we could see from streets near the central plaza. When we arrived we discovered that the cloisters held a wonderful museum. There were four cloister and around each of the pretty green patios were rooms full of treasures. Two of the rooms contained pre-Columbian artifacts. Along with the usual pottery, were cloth fragments (quite well preserved) ropes and some mummies recovered from the area around Nazca. There were also several rooms of religious artifacts and maps of the missionary’s travels. Two rooms were devoted to the Amazon region. One discussed the people while the other contained stuffed animals and birds collected in the jungle as well as a display of insects and a pretty display of butterflies. I expect that most of the artifacts were collected by the padres as they traveled thru Peru converting the Indians to Christianity.

On to Arequipa, Peru

After spending 5 hours in an internet café in Nazca on Saturday we moved on to Arequipa on Sunday, July 22. It was again an early departure, 3AM!, so that we would be traveling thru the mountains in the daylight. We both fell to sleep as the bus pulled out of Nazca. Three hours later as it was getting light we awoke to sand dunes on one side of the road and the Pacific Ocean on the other. The road follows close to the sea until it turns inland – even being carved into the cliffs above the sea over part of its length. The cliffs were sometime of sand and other times of rock, but the view was spectacular. The dry barren landscape was with us all the way to Arequipa. Arequipa is a large city high up (7,700 feet above sea level) on the dry side of the Andes Mountains, nestled into one of the many fertile valleys fed by rivers flowing down from higher up in the mountains.

Many of the buildings are constructed of sillar, a very white volcanic stone. Many have been reconstructed many times after they have been knocked down by the frequent earthquakes, so they are still white and clean looking. The Plaza de Armas, the central plaza, is one of the nicest that we have met in our many travels and is bordered on one side by the large cathedral and on the other three by shops and restaurants on the ground floor. The upper balcony that rims the plaza contains many small restaurants. We have enjoyed eating at a few of them while watching the activities in the plaza. Today is Dia de la Patria or Peru’s “Independence Day” and the streets are full of flags and the plaza is full of families. Many children are feeding the pigeons, but not much else is going on right now – maybe later in the day

Peru Pictures, part 3

Ruin sites south of Lima and from around Nazca.


Ruins of Pachacámac, a site south of Lima. This a view of the Pyramid of the Sun in the background with other ruins in the foreground.


Chuchilla Cemetery near Nazca. This cemetery dates from pre-Inca times and, although the graves had been opened and ransacked, the remains have been returned to the restored graves in recent times.

The next three images were taken as we flew over the Nazca Pampas.


The hummingbird.


The tree


The eagle


The “window” wells that line the path above the pre-Inca aqueduct.


We got a close look at this “Nazca Line” which is a trapezoid that seems to mark the underground river tapped by the aqueduct in the previous photo.