Monday, August 06, 2012

Peru/Brazil/Argentina Day 11: Mother's Day in Arequipa

May 13, 2012
Peru Day 11: Mother's Day in Arequipa

And... in true Inca Trail hiker-style, we're still waking up at 5:30am!! Oh well :) Got up earlier than planned but headed over to the really nice courtyard at our crazy awesome looking silar rock hotel. Breakfast was free and very good - amazing jam and bread, yoghurt and this crazy molasses sauce, and that same puffy quinoa/cereal stuff they served us in Cusco. Awesome. Also, 2 fried eggs! Great breakfast to get us going.

At La Casa de Melgar, Arequipa
Awesome courtyard at the hostel
Like a painting
We headed off to drop laundry at the Lavanderia - I will finally have clothing to wear!! I've been re-using a few things and had to sink-wash a couple of items after the Inca Trail. This'll be the first time I've been able to do laundry on the trip. :)

We then headed to Plaza des Armas. This (as Lonely Planet suggested) would be a way different experience than Plaza des Armas in Cusco (aka annoying tourist zone) and... oh my... it certainly was awesome and very culturally epic. It rocked. We got there and on arrival ran into this amazing Army march and band doing a parade for Mother's Day! So awesome. This was fun to watch and to take photos. Lots of nuns and locals were wandering the square as well, and it was a cool place to be and a great event to run into completely by chance.

Mother's Day Parade
Ice Cream
Parade for Mother's Day in Arequipa
Arequipa main square
Awesome architecture here
Cool stonework
Then to the Grocery Store, which was AWESOME. Anyone who knows me well or has traveled with me knows that I LOVE FOREIGN GROCERY STORES. Love 'em. I could spend hours in there!! It is just SO fun to explore and see similar things that you might see at home, but with little (and sometimes major) twists. So fun. It's just so interesting. Anyway, this one was particularly amazing cause they had freakin' MARACUYAS!!!! Also, Guanabanas!! I am a fruit fiend and especially a tropical fruit fiend, so finding this stuff was epic. I have been searching high and low for a Maracuya since we got here, it is a "Brazillian Passion Fruit", and different from what people call "Grenadillas" here (same name as South Africa), which is a Purple Passion Fruit. The Maracuya is a cousin/bro to the Grenadilla, and it's yellow, larger, and more sour. I was DAMN PSYCHED to try this. The Guanabana or "Soursop" is the fruit from that juice I had in Cusco last week, and it looks kinda like a Guava, so I'm pretty keen to hit that up too. Also in the grocery store we saw a bazillion kinds of Pisco and some funny cereals. I got some Peruvian Tea.

Lots of Pisco choices
FINALLY found Maracujas!!!
I bought a bunch of Maracujas and Tea, of course
Back we went to the hostel area to drop off stuff and saw lots of city busses passing by with their doors half-open. It reminded us a bit of the scary combi van ride in Cusco last week, ugh. :) We walked by the Lavanderia but the laundry wasn't ready yet, so we wandered some more and got some Alfajores. Back we went to the laundry place and picked up the laundry, all dry and folded! Perfect.

Laundry time!
Crazy city busses
Then off we went to the Santa Catalina Monastery, a famous "city within the city" here in Arequipa. There was some beautiful lighting for photos in there. I switched to RAW mode and took a bunch of artsy photos. There was a great view of the city and El Misti volcano. We wandered around for quite a while and I took the time for lots of photos and enjoying the buildings.

We all got separated a bit, so I headed back to the hostel for a bit of wind-down time. I couldn't plausibly let the Maracuyas sit on my bed unopened, but I didn't have a knife handy... so, in desperation for epic tropical fruit goodness, I opened a Maracuya with my keychain!! It was so good and sour.

After a quick Skype with Mom and Dad, I met up with everyone down at the Plaza des Armas. We tried to go to a traditional grill place but it looked like there was a private party going on in there, there was a bouncy castle and music?! But they let us see a menu and stuff so we were super confused. That was too complicated, so we headed back to the main square looking for lunch. I found a place called Cusco Coffee and grabbed a quick coffee to go. I asked for an Americano, con leche (with milk). The lady thought I was crazy... "Con... LECHE?!!!" haha I don't know why :) But it was great.

We found a lunch place, just a random pub-looking spot on the main square. It turned out to be AMAZING!!!!!!!!! I got Cebiche and it was one of the best ones I've had to far. It was so good. They gave us a shot of the cebiche juice to go along with it ("Leche de Tigre") and Jess LOVED it. We also tried another one of the localized beers, "Arequipena". It was good but Cusquena still takes the cake.

Here there is "Arequipena" beer
This random lunch pub place had PHENOMINAL cebiche
Off we headed to the local market and it was mostly closed up except for the fruit stalls. That turned out to be a really beneficial thing because one lady there was making Juice (sin Agua!) - that's good because 1. it's fresh and 2. it doesn't contain what would likely be tap water and would possibly make me sick for a few days. So that was amazing. The fruit stall had the most insanely huge mangos I've ever seen and they were a bright, vibrant orange colour. She also had, you guessed it, more Maracuyas!!!!!!! So I got a Mango/Maracuja fresh-squeezed juice... and it was the most awesome thing ever. The lady was so nice, she let me try a piece of the epic mango, it was so fresh and huge. The juice was amazing too, it was blended and then she strained it in a huge spaghetti strainer thing. There was a lot of juice made from the one batch so she gave us "Dos por Uno" (2 for 1!). That was so nice and I said she should keep the change as an extra tip for being awesome. OH so good. That was the best juice ever made.

Fruit market, amazing
This lady cutting up a massive mango for a fresh juice for me
Fresh Mango and Maracuja juice, so thick she had to use a strainer!
Back we went to the hostel. I took some time to catch up on my journal and then destroyed the entire bag of 5 MARACUJAS! So good! I googled and found out that Maracuja is just a yellow passion fruit. I'm still not sure how they are related exactly, I thought it was a cousin of a passion fruit, but some people seem to use "Maracuja" and "Passion Fruit" interchangeably here. In any case, they friggin' rock the house.

And then I ate the entire rest of the bag of Maracujas
And then off to dinner. We ate at a place called Mixto's - I got the Palta relleno con Pollo (Filled Avocado with Chicken) - one of my favourite dishes so far. Also we shared some garlic bread and I got a Cebiche Pescado as well! Big dinner! We got Agua con gas this time, that was good. We joked it was "con muchas gas!" because it was very bubbly. This was a better choice than to keep getting so many Coca-Colas.

Jess at dinner
Awesome Palta Rellena I got at dinner (stuffed avocado)
And, more cebiche!
After our huge dinner we wandered for a while and tried to find an ATM that would give us money. We tried about 4 that didn't work, with errors from "can't complete transaction" to some random error screen to something unintelligible in Spanish. Haha, oh traveling. We finally found a ScotiaBank?!?! The pride of Nova Scotia, Canada... here in Arequipa, Peru?! Ok sure, they must be North-American-bank-card-friendly. As it turned out, they were. Plus the ATM had a hilarious screen, it said "Cash Money" on it.. haha.

Cash Money billlls
Then back we went to the hostel, packed up for the next morning, showered, and went to bed at a reasonable time, about 10:45. Early start tomorrow as we're flying out and heading up to Iquitos to go to the Amazon.

Back at our hostel, crazy tall doors
Interesing and unusual hostel room, silar rock walls
Bathroom in our hostel room!
The trip here in Arequipa has been short, but also a good amount of time to see the major highlights. It was really fun and a great idea to zoom into a more city-like place to shower, get some nice tasty food, take lots of photos and replenish our money at an ATM before heading back into the wilderness. We really planned this trip well.

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