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December 04, 2004

Arequipa Arequipa!

Ahoy friends and family - from Arequipa!

Lisa here--- yes, we have just begun our exact replica that every gringo does in the south of Peru. But, with only two weeks we want to see all of the exciting things possible! So, today we are in Arequipa, which is a 14hr bus ride south of Lima, with a very twisty road that puts the sea to sky highway to shame. We got in at around 9am, and found our new digs (recommended by Julie and Pete), napped, had some very yummy crepes for lunch, organized our trek in the Colca Canyon and checked out the town - including a very nice church where we bought a little aluminum bus to be blessed by the Virgin of Chapi. There is a huge statue of her which is apparently traveling around. Today we went to get our bus blessed by her and it was very mosh-pit-like. All crushing bodies etc. Ladies were sending portraits and water and even their babies to touch the dress of the Virgen. Very bizarre. Anyhow, we got our 'milagro' blessed and pinned it on a little piece of fabric so that we
don't die on a bus. So, those of you who might have been worried cough DAD cough, don't... the Virgen of Chapi is on our side.

Today we also visited a very old convent. It was very huge and very beautiful. It is a Dominican convent and has a very interesting history. When it was first founded it was used for rich Spanish families to send their second daughter (yep, that's me!) to live there to be a nun to guarantee salvation for the family. It was very expensive, and pretty cushy! Nuns had their own rooms (or shared) with maids who did cooking and cleaning. They also got pretty nice presents from their families, washing mashines (prototypes) pianos, and they could even inherit property. Anyhow, later on some new Mother Superior came along and fixed all of that. Since then they've also had a visit from the pope, AND, they have a Saint from there, who is credited with making some predictions and apparently the dirt from her grave cured a woman of cancer (who was given only hours to live.... she lived 30 more years!)

I will let Alistair tell you some more about our adventures here, but first I will tell you a little about my last week volunteering in Lima. It was wold fight against aids week and we spent the week touring Lima in the CARAVANA contre el VIH/SIDA. IT was really fun, there were games, and plays and we handed out many a free condom (despite what the church would have liked I'm sure). However, the best was that I got to put the condom costume on for the last couple of days and dance around as a giant condom!! It was very fun, and a good job for me, because usually people would be more interested in the fact that I am a gringa than the information we were giving out... especially at the schools with all the teen boys. It was very fun, and quite reminiscent of being the bobcat at good ole Brookswood Secondary School. Anyhow, it's all very surreal to be travelling now, but I'm sure enjoying it, it's very relaxing (maybe I won't say that after our trek in the colca canyon!).
OK here's alistair!

Lisa and I visited the local museum here that houses the remains of the famous 'Ice Princess' Juanita. Juanita was a 12-14 girl who was sacrificed by the Incas and then buried at the summit of a local mountain. The museum and the tour were excellent. They showed a short National Geographic documentary and then our guide took us through the displays of the artifacts collected from Juanita's grave as well as the graves of some other mummies found nearby.

Almost everything has been perfectly (perfectly) preserved due the the temperature and dryness of the mountain air. There are 500 year old garments still in perfect shape. They have clay pots that still contain Chicha (a Incan alcohol), sandals that look like they could still be work, and an ancient Incan map - made from braiding rope together and encoding the information using knots in the rope. One of the graves (of a young boy) had been hit repeatedly by lightning. It was the only grave to contain metal objects. The clothes and metal pieces collected all showed extensive burn marks.

The highlight of the museum was Juanita's body - still in remarkable condition. All her skin is intact and apparently her internal organs are still in decent (500yr old) condition. She is kept in a triple walled glass freezer at minus 20!

Tomorrow (at 2am!) we are off on a two day trek through the world's second deepest canyon (Colca Canyon). We will write some more soon!

Posted by Alistair Howard at December 4, 2004 04:10 AM


Have fun in the world's second-deepest canyon. Too bad it's not the FIRST-deepest, which WE went to when WE were in Peru! :-P No, no I'm not competitive at all. Seriously, have a great time!

Posted by: Sandra at December 4, 2004 06:18 AM

Hi you guys
Alistair your pictures are great!! Lisa send us (or dad) and e-mail when you get a chance. Sounds like you are having a great time. You're not missing much here ..........just the general hussle and bussle of Christmas!
P.S. Whistler has tons of snow!

Posted by: patti at December 7, 2004 05:36 AM

hi lisa and alistair

i looooooooove your ever you call it. i find myself checking almost on a daily basis to see if there is anything new about your advanture.
great pictures!
take care and keep writing.

Posted by: elke at December 7, 2004 12:04 PM

hi lisa
i just found this site and am reading your adventures,sounds like your having a great experience.
hope you will be home at christmas,if not we will see you whenever.
keep up the good work

pat and teresa

Posted by: pat at December 13, 2004 05:34 AM