Volcano Chachani at sunset
OK, so I know everyone is getting impatient waiting to hear more about the kids in the orphanage. I´m still working on making sure I get pictures of all of them and have almost succeeded…I just need to get a few more this afternoon and tomorrow and then everyone’s curiosity will soon be satisfied. Until then…let’s talk about my current home…Arequipa, Peru.
Plaza de Armas
Arequipa, located in southern Peru, is that nation’s second largest and most important city. It is also the capital of the Arequipa Province, and is 633.8 miles from Lima. The city lies in the highlands at the foot of the snow-capped volcano El Misti. El Misti is currently inactive, but erupted strongly between 1438 and 1471. Several smaller eruptions have occurred since then, most recently in 1784. Arequipa has over 80
volcanoes which can be found in the Valley of Volcanoes. Arequipa has many fine colonial-era Spanish buildings built of sillar, a pearly white volcanic rock used extensively in the city, and from which it gets its nickname La Ciudad Blanca (“the white city”). The historic center of the city was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000, in recognition of its architecture and historic integrity. The city is located at an altitude of 2,380 meters (7740 feet) above sea level. El Misti is
located besides a bigger volcano Chachani “the Beloved” and the pike Picchu Picchu “Top Top” – both named in the Quechua language of the ancient Inca Empire.
So that’s what Wikipedia has to say about Arequipa. Adding my two cents: Arequipa couldn’t be much more different from Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Cusco and environs, while also being high in the Andes is very damp, lush and green. Arequipa, on the other hand, is smack dab in the middle of a desert. It is flat, (though at a high altitude) except for the aforementioned volcanoes surrounding it. I’ve included some of the great pictures of Misti and Chachani taken at sunset by my friend Karen. She lives a bit out and above town and right in front of the volcanoes which gives her the best proximity for taking photos…especially the cool ones at sunset.
Arequipa is referred to as the “White City” because its colonial era buildings are constructed of a white volcanic rock known as “sillar.” The sillar is very beautiful…but it is also very porous and fragile so it sometimes escapes me how the building manage to not disintegrate…I’m guessing largely because Arequipa gets very little rain. Everything in the center of the city is made of sillar and it is so fragile that you can literally break a piece off of the walls when sitting in a bar or restaurant in the middle of town. And don’t brush up against it or you’ll have what equates to “chalk marks” all over you clothes. Still, as you can see from the photos, it makes for a beautiful city.
Karen and Stacey
Originally I planned to do my volunteer work in Huancayo, Peru in the central highlands but decided that since I have a friend in Arequipa and wouldn’t have to backtrack once I headed south again…decided to find a volunteer organization here in Arequipa. In addition, Arequipa has a good location for things to do on the weekend…for example, this weekend I’m headed to the city of Puno as well as Lake Titicaca and the famous floating islands so stay tuned for that. The other major attraction near Arequipa is the Colca Canyon which is the 2nd deepest canyon in the world. I’m still getting the details of that trek worked out but you’ll be sure to be seeing lots from Colca in the coming weeks as well.
Plaza de Armas
Plaza San Francisco
Here in Arequipa I’ve volunteering with the organization “Traveller Not Tourist” and living in their volunteer residence apartment about 4 blocks from the main square. TNT is a volunteer organization run by Jay and Luis (an English and Peruvian couple) here in Arequipa. The current projects include the orphanage I’m volunteering in and a education/basic health project in a rural community out by the Volcano Chachani. So far the experience has been great and I can recommend it highly. Of course, there will be more on the specifics at the orphanage in my next post and lots to come from Lake Titicaca as well. Type to you soon…
Tags: 9 - Peru, Arequipa, Plaza de Armas