Arequipa Journals

Trying to Think Like a Local: Studying Spanish in Arequipa

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A January 2010 trip to Arequipa by Owen Lipsett

Llama Education Language School Photo, Arequipa, Peru More Photos
Quote: A loose collection of my experiences studying Spanish in Arequipa, Peru's more relaxed and pleasant city.
Llama Education Language School Photo, Arequipa, Peru
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Although it's easily the most pleasant place I've spent time in Southern Peru, my purpose in coming to Arequipa was to improve my Spanish rather than to sightsee. Indeed, the two can be mutually exclusive to a certain degree. Cuzco attracts far more English-speakers visitors (a fair number of whom come to study Spanish) and as a result its economy revolves around tourism. It's quite easy to function there without speaking much if any Spanish. By contrast, while every other building in Central Arequipa appears to be a travel agency, its relative paucity of visitors and status as Southern Peru's economic capital means they're absorbed into a much more authentic milieu. I was aware of this phenomeno...Read More

A Brief Introduction to Peruvian Food

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Cathedral Near Sunset Photo, Arequipa, Peru
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Although it's justifiably growing in popularity abroad, too often Peruvian food either calls to mind either inexpensive pollo a la brasa (spit roasted chicken) or expensive (outside of Peru) ceviche (raw fish "cooked" in lemon juice sometimes mixed with aji). In honor Arequipa's status as Peru's culinary capital (home to its best and most original food as opposed to most famous restaurants), here's a brief list of some typical Peruvian foods you may (or may not) have heard of.Cuy: Okay, I'll get this one out of the way first. Peruvians eat guinea pigs. But keep in mind that they were dinner for thousands of years before they became pets, since they're easy to raise and relati...Read More

Museo Santury

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Attraction | "Arequipa's Best Museum"

Museo Santury Photo, Arequipa, Peru
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Over five hundred years ago, the Inca residents of the area around Arequipa were suffering from poor harvests. The reason, they believed, was that their gods were angry that they had no received the proper veneration. To appease them, the Incas brought a young girl of noble blood to the volcano of Ampato and sacrificed and buried her at its summit. This museum amply explains why the Incas made a sacrifice, why they chose a young girl (nicknamed Juanita), and why they chose to sacrifice her on a mountain. While you should certainly visit if you're in Arequipa, the reasons are relatively easy to explain. The Incas believed that their gods, both the earth mother (Pachamama) and the mou...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 3, 2010

Museo Santury
Santa Catalina 210
Arequipa, Peru
+51 54 200345

Convento de Santa Catalina

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Attraction | "A Spanish Ghost Town in the Middle of Arequipa"

Convento de Santa Catalina Photo, Arequipa, Peru
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Vying with the Ice Maiden Juanita as Arequipa's most famous attraction, Santa Catalina is one of the colonial architectural highlights not just of Arequipa or Peru, but South America as a whole. It's often described as a city within a city, and while this is a slight exaggeration (it occupies a full city block so "town" would be men appropriate), it's otherwise fully worthy of its considerable fame. The only disappointment is that its citadel (the only of its kind inside a convent in the world) doesn't offer a view of much beyond the convent, but I suppose that in itself is singularly appropriate. The convent was founded in 1579 and was fully cloistered for the following 391 years. ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 2, 2010

Convento de Santa Catalina
Calle Santa Catalina 301
Arequipa, Peru
+51 54 229798

Colca Canyon

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Attraction | "Watch Your Head (For Altitude Sickness That Is!)"

Colca Canyon Photo, Arequipa, Peru
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Arequipa doesn't have sheer number of the "must-sees" of Cusco and the Sacred Valley or Peru's Coast. (Personally, I'm not fond of the term since people's tastes vary and I don't think of travel as a competitive activity). However, next to the Monastery of Santa Catalina, the attraction that appears to be worthiest of the title (certainly in terms of popularity) is the nearby Colca Canyon. Nearby is a somewhat relative term, since it's approximately four hours away by road, the first hour over the smoothly paved thoroughfare that also runs to Cusco and Puno, the next over tortuous dirt roads, and the final two over a winding cliffside path that might be described as combination between the two....Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 2, 2010

Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon
Arequipa, Peru