Sunday, June 6, 2010

We slept in, which was nice. Rather than formulate a plan, we just started walking up and down streets in Arequipa. As we got to the Plaza de Armas, there was a military parade going on, so we stopped to watch that. We have absolutely no idea what was going on, but every branch of the military appeared to be there, and they all looked immaculate.

We wandered into a church near the Plaza de Armas, then into a museum. The museum was of Andean arifacts, including many related to "Juanita." We had heard about Juanita while in Colca Canyon. She was a mummy from Incan times, discovered when volcanic ash melted the ice cap atop Mt Ampato near Chivay. Juanita's body had actually tumbled down the mountain a bit, and had been sitting out in the elements for close to a month before she was found. After that, people went back looking for other artifacts, and eventually found 3 other mummies, which were not as well preserved since they were lower down the mountain, whereas Juanita had been frozen at the top the whole time.

In addition to the mummies, they found other stuff, such as shoes, textiles, pots, etc. Much of this stuff was now at this museum in Arequipa. First off, we saw a documentary that National Geographic did many years back regarding the discovery and the various items found. Then we had a guide take us into several small rooms, where we saw some maps of the relevant area, clothing items recovered from the mummies, some of the "offerings" to the gods, sandals, pots, and more. In the last room, we saw Juanita, who apart from looking quite small, seemed very well preserved. Her face was exposed to the elements for those 25 days, so that was discolored, but her arms looked normal.

After leaving the museum, we wandered some more streets, saw some more churches, saw the well-regarded La Iberica chocolate store, then went back to the room to get some water. Arequipa was one of the driest places we've ever been, and we were constantly thirsty. We headed out for lunch, but detoured because there was another parade. We weren't sure what this was for sure, but it seemed to be a funeral procession, but one with a New Orleans vibe to it.

If we ever perish in an accident, please have a New Orleans-style party for us, drinking all the booze we have at our house. We had lunch at Zingaro (which Justin had determined the night before, using his limited Spanish, was open for lunch). Justin got the Lomo Saltado (with Alpaca meat), and Crystal had a shrimp chowder with onions, potatoes, cheese.

After lunch, we spent the afternoon in the monastery, which was right next to our hotel (and the various restaurants we'd been going to). The monastery was quite expansive, with several different areas built over several centuries. The convent went back to the late 1579, but was not open to public until 1970. Everyone must have been short - we had to duck at nearly every doorway. For our second trip in a row, we saw someone taking weddng photos. It's easy to imagine why pictures are taken at the monastery - the walls are painted in bright reds and blue. We left as the monastery was closing at 4pm. We went back to room for some TV, and watched SWAT, a replay of French Open final, and Cast Away. We never made it to dinner. Crystal still wasn't feeling well, so she went to sleep early. Justin stayed up some more and watched Game 2 of NBA finals and a bit of the Da Vinci Code.