It was recommended to us to stop in Arequipa for the historical buildings and to acclimate ourselves slowly to higher altitudes on our way to Cusco. We spent three nights at a hostel booked online near the down town area and had a pleasant time walking, exploring and feeding many pigeons. We should have done more in this lovely city but my youngest had been out of sorts and we decided to take it easy here for a few days. Mostly we walked the few blocks to the Plaza de Armas and let the kids feed pigeons. Why such a mundane task in this beautiful location with such possibilities? Because the kids loved it and wanted to do it each day. Traveling with kids can be a challenge. This trip has taken them pretty far from everything familiar and comfortable. It was nice to let them run and play each day in a way that let them find their joy on a trip that has challenged them so.
The Plaza de Armas is a charming square next to The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa. It is a cathedral first built in the 16th century, destroyed several times by earthquakes and a fire, re-built each time and made from volcanic ash rock from an eruption last century. I took my boys on the tour of the cathedral and was surprised at how much they enjoyed it. Rex was especially excited and animated about much of the information and had our guide glowing with his questions and gasps at new rooms, displays and her stories. One of the cool things they had on display in the Museum was a crown made from jewelry donated over the centuries and soldered into the design. Unfortunately much of what was left after years of theft was damaged but there were some very ornate religious relics and the boys wanted to see them all. At the end of the tour we went onto the roof for a sweeping view of the city and my favorite part, the bell tower. It was a grand end to a lovely tour.
The boys were thrilled to have such good a view of the volcano from the roof and of the square with all the pigeons. I found a painting in the cathedral of Mary breast feeding a baby Jesus and was surprised at finding such an interesting depiction. We went to the San Camila Market one afternoon and I would have loved to spend an hour in there taking pictures. It was about seven blocks from where we stayed and an interesting walk past more eye glass stores than we could count followed by endless tuxedo stores. The family was happy to buy a bag of fruit for a fraction of the cost back home and take a quick walk through while I took as many pics as possible. The market seemed more for locals but had everything from fruit, flowers, meat, cheeses, grains, clothes and more.
The boys found some home made toys that they bought with their own soles and played with them till they fell apart. They were the best kind of toy because we didn’t have to bring them along with us when we left for Cusco the next day.
Many people choose to take a tour to Colca Canyon and I had planned on us doing this but once we were in Arequipa the family voted to skip it for the pigeons. The 6 hour ride back in the direction we had just come was not appealing to anyone but me and so I let it go and that’s alright. We are still seeing beautiful things and experiencing Peru together and that’s the important thing.
Next stop is Cusco!