Photo Diary: Acclimatizing in Arequipa

Our main purpose for spending two nights in Peru’s second-biggest city was to get acclimatized for the high-altitude passes en route to nearby Colca Canyon, but we quickly found the “White City” of Arequipa is worth spending some time lingering in and admiring the city’s namesake cool white volcanic stone buildings — as well as the warm red walls of the Santa Catalina Monastery — the dry summery air, and the much quieter strains of everyday life without the blaring traffic horns and gunmetal gray skies of Lima.

After a pleasant flight and heading into the airport arrivals halls to look for our pre-arranged hotel driver, we scanned the small cluster of waiting chofers for a board with our name on it. When none met our eye after a few minutes, Dan called up our hotel to inquire as to the possible whereabouts of our driver, and after fumbling through a few misconjugations the receptionist then proceeded to reply in perfect English, “Sir, can you please speak English so I can understand you.” We immediately busted out laughing since try as he does, this seems to be a common thread when Dan attempts speaking in Spanish.

Once we arrived at the hotel, we headed up to the rooftop terrace of the hotel to admire the mighty presence of the still snow-capped peak of El Misti, the near symmetrical volcano that reigns over Arequipa’s skyline, and watch the setting sun tinge the sky with deep shades of peach, apricot, and indigo as we settled our plans for the next day: a morning meander through Santa Catalina Monastery, a free walking tour with Arequipa Free Tours, a spin around the Plaza de Armas, and a scoop of queso helado, a popular ice cream treat sold by street vendors throughout the city with a flavor reminiscent to that of eggnog — a bit of northern hemisphere winter holiday flavors during the southern hemisphere summer!

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