Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Our guide took us on a driving tour of Arequipa, starting with a view of the city from atop a hill. We noticed many fields and some farm animals within the city proper. There are many old Inca terraces being utilized for farming. They grow papaya (which is much better than we have at home), passion fruit, broccoli, avocado, carrots, asparagus, turnips, quinoa, potatoes, corn and more. They also grow maca, a member of the onion family, which is good for energy, and is sometimes called natural viagara.
Many homes are built on the hillsides. There are no roads going up these hills, so all of the homes have to be accessed by stairs. Walking up and down keeps them in good shape, but I sure wouldn’t want to carry four bags of groceries up several flights.
We drove through several districts of the city. The Yanahuara (Black Trousers) district has many colonial era houses. When the Incas first arrived here, they saw that the local people were wearing short black pants, so gave them the name Yanahuara. After the Spanish began settling in South American, many Castilians settled in this district. Castile is in the north central part of Spain, and Castilian people are represented by a lion in many of the carvings here.
We paid a visit to La Mansión del Fundador (home of the founder). Built by Don Garcí Manuel De Carbajal, a Spanish lieutenant who explored the area as an emissary of Francisco Pizarro, as a home for his local wife and family. From the paintings here, it seems he was a handsome man. The house was restored in 1980s, and is used as an event center. The grounds are beautiful. You can hold a wedding there for about $5,000 (not including food, drinks and decorations). The house is full of artwork and furniture from the many families who owned it over the years. Sitting high above the city, it provides panoramic views of the fields and buildings here.
We also stopped at Molina de Sabandía, a 400 year old water mill used to grind wheat. Unlike the water wheel many of us are familiar with, the Sabandía uses water diverted from a nearby stream and sends it down a series of floors to power the mill. Here, too, there are beautiful views of the city of Arequipa.
Our visit to Museo Santuarios Andinos was fascinating. This is final resting place of the Peruvian Ice Maiden, a 12 year old Inca girl who had been sacrificed to the gods in the 1450s. Dubbed Juanita, her body was discovered during a 1995 excavation atop Nevado Ampato in the Colca District. Her body had been hidden in ice until a nearby volcano began erupting, causing melting on the mountain where she had been buried. She is called the Ice Maiden because the body is placed in deep freeze in total darkness from January to April every year for conservation purposes.
We also enjoyed Mundo Alpaca (Alpaca World) where we heard about the differences between llamas, alpaca and vicuña. All of the wool is sorted by hand. The baby alpaca is pulled out first, then the fibers are separated by color. The vicuña provides the finest and most expensive wool. These animals are shorn only once every two years. The wool must be sorted by hand to remove impurities and coarse fibers, leaving a small amount of very soft wool. We observed a couple of local women weaving the wool into beautiful fabrics. I purchased a scarf and shawl made of silk and baby alpaca. Normally, I can’t wear wool, but this is very soft and delicate and I think I’ll be able to tolerate it.
The Mercado San Camilo is a very large market frequented by the locals. We were awed by the displays of fruits (some of which we didn’t recognize), vegetables, meats and cheeses as well as household goods.
For dinner, we went to a restaurant that our guide had suggested, Zig Zag, where we were able to try alpaca meat. This meat is quite good to eat, and is lower in calories and cholesterol. Our meals were served on piping hot lava plates; the meat was still sizzling. Besides alpaca, we were able to have two other meats. I chose beef and chicken; Mark chose beef and lamb. We could even choose the size of servings, which I appreciated, not having to waste half of my meal. The meats were served with some tasty sauces as well.
We learned the next day that there was a 5.0 earthquake in the Arequipa area around 6:20 pm. This was the time we were walking to the restaurant, but we didn’t notice the tremors.