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