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.