Posted by: gypsytales | March 30, 2010

The Sound of Arequipa – Peru

view from our roof top terrace

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark

So while I many not be alone, for the last 3 months I have been waking up in strange towns and I can most definitely agree, it “is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world”.

more views

The sound of a church bell, in desperate need of a tuning, rang seven times this morning, causing me to stir and catch the first glimpse of morning sun as it filtered through the flimsy curtains.  Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city, was calling me to discover her secrets.

having coffee in one of the side streets

There is something different here.  I’m not sure what it is yet.  A sense of anticipation has been brewing since we arrived.

enclosed courtyard in one of the cathedrals

After breakfast it was off to orientate ourselves with the Arequipa.  A lot of the buildings are built from white volcanic rock, which is why Arequipa is also known as the “White City”.

beautiful stone work

Not only are we trying to acclimatise to an altitude of 2,400 metres but our ears are desperately trying to adjust to the noisy decibels of a thousand hooting taxis that clot the narrow streets accompanied by the shrieking whistles of policemen and policewomen trying to control the chaos.  We have also discovered that we are objects in a live game of Dodgem Cars.  Cars Rule!!  What’s a pedestrian?  Perhaps that growing sense of anticipation I was feeling was actually to do with life preservation.  Heck, I haven’t survived nearly 10,000 km travelling by bus, going to the driest desert on earth, crossing the Drake Passage at a Force 10 gale en route to Antarctica or being caught in an 8.8 earthquake in Chile to become road kill in Peru.

roof top garden

We strolled through the picturesque streets and I couldn’t resist buying 3 books when we discovered a second hand book shop.  We also learned that there was a Theatre Festival during the coming week and decided to give it a skip after we learned Macbeth was in Spanish, Shakespeare has its challenges, even in English.

Peru has this fabulous option at lunch time called Menu, starter, main, dessert and a drink ranging from 3 Soles to 7 Soles.   We found a little backstreet café and tried one of the “Menu del Dia” with Sander who we met on the bus.  The place was buzzing with flies and we later read somewhere that only the authentic places have flies, everywhere else is for tourists.  So since then – no flies – no “Menu del Dia”.

Our hotel has a roof top terrace.  Our first evening was spent taking in the sunset and reading one of my latest books.

sunset in Arequipa, Peru

Catholic is the main religion and with the advent of the Easter Weekend approaching there has been much in the way of pageants, festivals and singing and celebrating.  The vibrant colours are beautiful to see and the parade of candle bearers walking and singing around the square at night is enchanting.



  1. Really nice sunset for my desktop wallpaper!

  2. Love the roof top garden! May you be blessed with the most special Easter EVER! May the beautiful sunsets and flickering candle light remind you of what its all about. May you, whilst in this special place, remembering His death, feel more alive than ever. Much love Corrien

  3. Francie – you’re becoming a photographer to rival your other half! (Shh……I don’t want to stir up matrimonial discord). We are so enjoying your blogs and travels – its like watching a serial travelogue to the most exotic and out-of-the-way places. I can’t wait for my daily fix! Keep enjoying the wonder of being a stranger in a strange land.

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