Arequipa is Peru’s 2nd largest city, nestled inside some of the highest mountains in the area. We were lucky enough to see the sun set over the mountains, creating a purple and pink sky to backdrop the jagged mountains.
After many seemingly unnecessary bus checks crossing the border into Peru, we have arrived safely in Arequipa. Like many other South American countries, Peru has random and hard to understand bureaucratic rules. Our bus ride was supposed to be 6 hours long, but we wound up being on the bus for 10 hours due to police checks, duty free inspections and customs checks. But luckily, we faced no problems (unlike some of our Peruvian counterparts) and found a wonderful hostel in Arequipa, complete with fresh squeezed orange juice.
Already we have noticed cultural differences between Peru and Chile. Peru is noticeably less developed, including unpaved sidewalks, lack of traffic signs, with fewer malls and large grocery stores. The women dress much more traditionally and wear these funny little hats that look like they could fall off their head at any minute. However, the food is incredible with such rich flavors and delicious sauces. The people seem more laid back and the service industry is much more hospitable and helpful.
One of the first things Sam & I noticed about Arequipa was the traffic! Because the city feels so old, the streets are narrow making all of the traffic come together in these tight turns and little streets. You’ll hear lots of honking!
Arequipa has lots of narrow cobblestone streets with old monasteries and fortresses, creating a dense but historical feeling.The Plaza del Armas here is the best thus far, complete Spanish style arches and hints of Moorish architecture. There are lots of great artisan shops and unique handcrafted goods. We spent the day wandering the city and enjoying the warm sun.