::::: EL MUNDO REAL :::::
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Tony Gavilanes / Lacy Sarco

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(episode 10)

Can't see the movie? Click here to download Quicktime

The Misti Volcano really lived up to its name, shrouded until our final morning on the way to the Terminal Terrestre. Fantastic though; close, so that the next time it decides to burp, bye bye Pompeii. A shape like Rainier, which put me back home for two minutes of nostalgia. I think about that Misti hiccupping and all the glorious catholic Spanish conquest over the land being wiped clean. Aside from those wonderful museums holding on to all that pre-Incan stuff, some textiles date back two thousand years with alpaca weave like you still find at the market. Super chevere! It’s just so sad listening to these histories like Machu Picchu and here. I mean, the main attractions of the city are Plaza de Armas and Santa Catalina convent, an amazingly colorful city within itself, where Arequipa’s richest daughters were sent into Dominican sisterhood in European tradition, exclusive of the natives. There’s a profound history of one who fakes her death to escape and only blew the gig when, a couple years later, demanded the dowry payment back. A hearty settlement, would she have been able to attain it. But the same story everywhere: “This city was founded here in 1586 by Spanish.” I pray for indigenous peoples worldwide, and I yearn to know more.

We saw a museum with mummies frozen in the snowcap of local mountains. They were Incan children, sacrificed to the Gods on the mountain. That was crazy. One, named Juanita, was found completely exposed at the peak after a nearby volcano’s eruptions melted down her icy cover. Over twenty child mummies have been found across the lands of Ecuador to Santiago, Chile dating back to a time of one Inca ruler. Apparently, he thought sacrificing the most beautiful and absolute purest of the nobility would gain the highest honor with the gods. The amazing thing is that the nobility of Incan civilization was ready and willing for the honor of being sacrificed, often times having to make two-week journeys in sandals from the capital, Cusco, to a place like where they found Juanita. A spectacle of history. And really only 500 years ago…

After the all too appetizing mummy exhibit, we got off to Av. San Francisco for some grub. There are two great places to go there: a real Turkish Kebab joint, and right next to it, a pizza kitchen with a honest wood fire oven. Damn, it was hot in there, but the food was ridiculous. Funny, this time around we didn’t have the Cuy (guinea pig). Ended up just hitting international restaurants. But you know what’s great? The multitude of local restaurants doing three or four courses and a drink for 6 soles, 4 soles, even 3 soles. To give you an image, the US dollar is equivalent to 3.25 soles. You can score a three-course meal for under a dollar and the portions come large. Appetizer, a huge bowl of soup, and then the main course, of which you have a choice between 3. These places are all over in South America, serving up truly local fare at a fraction of the cost of international or tourist restaurants. Look for the chalk signs hanging outside really seedy looking joints, or even “Tourist Menu.” Sometimes there’s a great set menu kind of thing where you can get a real good deal.

The deepest canyon in the world is just outside Arequipa, the Colca Canyon, topped off by habitats of condors at Cruz del Condor. But we didn’t go. We were still so worn out from our time in Cusco that there was nothing other than hitting the local Panaderia for fresh sweet rolls and swinging in the hammocks on the roof of our hostel. Arequipay Backpackers (our hostel) was great too. Just three or four blocks off of Plaza de Armas, which is where you want to be in the city, clean, and safe as can be. We even slacked as much as to snag liters of beer and play the “300” drinking game to the movie. It really was a great place to kick back, and kick back we did.

POSTED: March 18, 2009