Wednesday April 4
04.04.2012 - 04.04.2012
We fly from Arequipa to Lima @ 9pm tonight and then most of the group begin their flights homeThursday evening, so Juan has arranged a Lima City Tour for Thursday morning. Unfortunately, Georgia's flight home leaves Lima at 0200 so she will just stay at the airport when we arrive tonight - she had tried to change flights but no other seats were available on her routing.
Ric gets a few envelopes from the hotel desk and circulated the word that a tip collection will be taken for Darwin, Willy and Juan on the way out to the airport tonght. There is lots of support for this as everyone has been very pleased with the drivers and especially with Juan as our guide.
Early breakfast and walkabout then @ 1000 we walk to Santa Catalina convent for a local tour. It is very extensive, like a city within the city, where ~500 nuns lived at its peak in the 1800s, but only 27 are left today (between the ages of 19 and 104!). A life married to God seemed a better option than others for women at that time, but the Catholic faith, often including earlier enduring elements from pre-conquest religious beliefs, still seems very strong throughout Peru today.
We next go through the Santa Maria Museum (near the main square) to see the remains of "Juanita", a 12-year old girl from Cusco, who was ritually sacrificed in the time of the Incas on one of the high mountains near Arequipa, to appease the gods and avoid more volcanic eruptions. She and her priestly entourage had walked from Cusco and then climbed to ~6000m to make the sacrifice near the mountaintop. Her body was extremely well preserved by the cold and dry atmosphere when she was found by archaeologists. A number of similar ritual human sacrifices have been found along the high Andes from Ecuador to Chile.
We all walked back along a road leading over the Chili River and shared a great lunch at a large restaurant on the other side that included Cuy (roast guinea pig, Peru's national dish, done in what Juan refers to poetically as "road kill" style - flattened down and deep-fried), and live Peruvian music including the ubiquitous pan pipes, Ric's favourite (not!). Keely even got up on stage for a photo of her piping along with the rest of the band - great fun!
After lunch Ric and I went to an inner courtyard near the main square where as Juan had suggested they had lots of alpaca shops so I could find one of the styles Catriona had suggested she would like. Much hilarity among the women in our group earlier (at Pisac market I think) when I produced Catriona's sweater photos and explained my legendary lack of fashion sense, along with sincere empathy from most of the men for my plight. But this time, with Juan's help interpreting, I found a suitable baby alpaca sweater and finally check that item off my list - hurray! Yet more shopping/looking along the pedestrian mall and then we bus out to the airport for our flight to Lima.
Ric has done a great job overseeing the collection of tips and delivers these and a heartfelt thank-you to the drivers in "flawless" Spanish with Juan's assistance. "Ustedes son los mejores choferes!" = "Darwin and Willy, you are the best drivers ever!". I then give a little speech thanking Juan for his truly exemplary service to us all on the trip, and present him with his tip as well while Georgia is still with us. These are pleasant duties as everyone feels that we have really had remarkably good services from all of them. Good stuff!
Uneventful flight to Lima, goodbyes to Georgia, and we bus back to Hotel Antigua Miraflores by about midnight to fall into our beds. It actually feels a little like coming home after our nomadic tour of the past 2 weeks.