Saturday, May 17, 2008
Day 1, Arequipa
On the left, is Ana, our hostess at Casa Ana in Arequipa. She is standing on her upper patio.
The "Airporter" picked me up at 9 AM, April 30th. It was so easy! There was only one pick-up on the way to the airport, a fun Cuban lady on her way to Florida. She talked non-stop, but I didn't mind a bit.
It's amazing how complicated and time consuming flying has become! The actual flight to Houston was half an hour; the actual flying time to Lima, 6 hours. However, it was 2 AM when we arrived! Only part of that time was replacing a valve on our plane......the rest was waiting in endless lines. Bureaucracy has grown incredibly both in this country and in Peru!
Our travel agency who did an overall good job, failed to provide us with anyone to meet us in Lima. More correctly, no provisions were made for our flight's late arrival. We had an emergency number, but the tourist help desk told us it could make no phone calls. We weren't prepared to use the Peruvian pay phone, nor did we had we converted any money, yet. The taxi drivers all wanted to give us rides, however. (Our hotel was supposed to be attached to the airport) Finally, a nice taxi driver understood our plight well enough to call the emergency number on his cell phone, and after a rapid conversation in Spanish, asked us to follow him. Doreen was all for that, with me lagging behind. What.....follow a strange man we met in the busy Lima airport at 2AM? I had been expressly told to NEVER do such a thing! :-)
Doreen's hunch was on target. We were walked to hour hotel where we gratefully took a quick shower and fell into our beds.....for 3 hours. I didn't feel as bad as one might think. I was ready to get out of Lima and on to our adventure.
Our plane landed a bit out from the entry to the airport. No tarmac here. I was glad I had a cane to take much of the weight from my left knee which Doreen....accurately, as it turns out....diagnosed as a damaged meniscus. We were met by our guide with driver. I remember nothing of our drive to Casa de Ana other than the exceptional narrowness of the streets.
This is the view of the guest house's entry patio, taken from our second floor room. (Yeah! ALL our rooms were on the second floor throughout our trip, and I felt the pain of each stair. I vowed to not ignore my knee once I got home back home to flat ground.)
Below is our view from the rooftop patio.
These photo above and below are of the main square. Nice palms! Arequipa has the same temperate climate throughout the year....Glorious....until sunset. The altitude is only about 8,500 ft, but it's enough to be very
cold at night. As we learned later, we had no idea what "cold" was! :-)
Ana hopped into a small taxi with us to direct us to a restaurant. This taxi, as well as all which followed had
many religious cards dangling on the inside windshield. All were exceptional drivers.
Lots of steps led us up to this balcony restaurant.
Doreen is watching Ana sketching out directions on a little map while I pray for food. I had forgotten that one does not visit Peru for its food, though happy surprises can be had. The best part of the day, though, definitely came after lunch.