Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, still in Arequipa
After class today, Marta met us at the school and we walked downtown. She took us a different route through the leather workers and musical instrument districts. Some beautiful architecture. We stopped at another tour place, still looking for a good Colca trek. Not much luck. Then she took us to a place for lunch. She knows where the deals are. We had drinks, a huge bowl of soap, a giant entre and flan for about $2.50 each.
Marta went home and Tiff and I tried one more tour place recommended on the internet. They seemed much more interested in off-the-beaten-path treks but didn´t have any Colca treks that met with our time schedule so we left. After walking a bit we talked and decided to do the Cotuasi trek, a differnt and even deeper canyon-the deepest in the world. It leaves on Sat. and only has 4 other people on it. We headed to the ATM and reluctantly got a ton of cash out and went back to book. We know it will be a great trek but don´t want to blow our budgets. It´s still cheap by most standards, just a lot more than we have been spending.
Back home for dinner.
I have some observations about Arequipa and Peru in general:
They are not big on paper products. 4/5 of restaurants do not have paper towels in their bathrooms and the napkins everywhere are like 1/4 of ours- a little scrap.
I see dogs on roofs all the time. You see a fair number in the street but probably even more on rooftops, why I don´t know. There are no leash laws but I have yet so see any poop. When you see dogs they are either completely chilled on the sidewalk or look like they are on a mission.
Money. People are totaly fanatic about the bill looking perfect. They hold it up to the light and rub it. If it doesn´t meet their standards, they give it back. I guess there s a lot of conterfeiting.
A lot of bugs but no bugs. Like a lot of Latin American countries there are a lot of old VW bugs but almost no insects. The whole time I´ve been here, I´ve seen no mosquitos and maybe 3 flys. It´s pretty nice.
Weather. The weather here seems a lot like San Diego. It´s always in the seventies during the day with moderate to strong sun. Gets about 60 at night. Not even a hint of rain since we have been here.
Locals´ sweaters. People wear sweaters when Tiff and I are in shorts and sandles. They seem to think that 75 is cold. They dress like I would if it was 40 when its 70.
I have yet to see a mailman. Apparently the mail system goes from unreliable to non-existent. All bills are hand delivered by the companies.
Safety. There are cops everywhere and they all seem very nice. Some of them are motorcycle cops who where cool stormtrooper like outfits. I have never felt more safe in a major city.
There a city workers whose only job is to walk around and pick up trash so the streets are pretty clean. At least in the more tourist prone areas.
There are almost no overweight locals despite an apparent obsession with ice cream. There are carts all over the place. Almost no smokers either. Most of the people I see smoking are Europeans.
They love their car horns. It´s not as bad here as in Lima but still ridiculous. At least 60 percent of cars are cabs and the seem to be able to flash their lights honk their orns and swerve all at the same time. Also, everyone has car alarms and they go off constantly. One weird thing: I have seen only one ambulance with a siren going and no cops, in city of 800,000.
The fruit is a strange fruit called a grenadilla. I´s kind of hard on the outside, a white inner layer the the middle. It looks like tadpole eggs. The seeds aren´t hard and are sweet and easy to chew. Tastes pretty good. Not sure if it would catch on in the US.
The mountains are volcanoes. The big one is Misti and the other is Pichu Pichu. They mostly look like incredibly large piles of dirt. Most landscape is very brown if you get any distance from the river(Chili).