Arequipa

Arequipa is Peru’s second city, located in the south. This is an earthquake zone, and significant damage has been done to it over the years. Nowadays it is a more modern city than some others in Peru but still has a significant colonial feel to it:

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The Catholic Cathedral is one of the centrepieces of the city, part of the main square, and to really immerse ourselves  we attended Mass on Easter Sunday.  Peru is a deeply religious country (90% Catholic), and with all the Buddhist temples and Orthodox churches I’ve visited in the last couple of years it made a nice change to come back to Catholicism, even if I couldn’t understand a word of what the Bishop was talking about. My mate reliably informed me that he was getting a bit gooey about the new South American Pope.

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Witnessing the sun setting over the city was a real event in itself, we had a vantage point high over the main square where we settled to have dinner, taking lots of photos in the process. As the sun set the temperature dropped very rapidly, and we were all given ponchos to wear:

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Our time in Arequipa was sandwiched either side of the trip to  Colca Canyon, and when we returned to the city we visited the impressive Santa Catalina Convent, which was in effect a small walled city of its own. In the 18th century, families paid significant dowries so that their daughters to devote their lives there.  Today, a smaller number of nuns remain here in isolation in a similar way. We were told that the age range of the current incumbents was from 24 to 80. We saw nun of them today.

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Although isolated from the rest of the world, the views to the outside are well worth the short climb to the tower. It’s a very peaceful and tranquil place, even though it is situated right in the heart of a city.