Wednesday, February 13, 2002

At breakfast this morning they offered us mate de coca, or coca tea. It's made from coca, the plant from which cocaine is derived. Mate de coca is supposed to help with acclimatizing; it's not supposed to get you buzzed. Of course we tried it, and I don't know about the acclimatization effects, but the second part is certainly true. We did however feel the effects of the expresso-strength coffee combined with the altitude. After breakfast we were wired!

Una Terraza de La Casa de Melgar

After getting our bus tickets for Puno tomorrow squared away, we headed off to see the sights. Next stop, Yanahuara Mirador. It was pretty hazy and cloudy in the distance, so not much for views, but the mirador was located at a cute little square with a very old neat-looking church, Lejo Parroquial de Yanahuara. There were services going on because it's Ash Wednesday, so we just admired the edifice.

Las Palmas en Yanahuara Mirador

Next we went to el Monasterio de Santa Catalina, a functioning Dominican convent constructed in 1579. A population of 500 used to live there, but now only 30 nuns live in a small, isolated section that's not open to the public.

Dentro del Monasterio de Santa Catalina

Santa Catalina is huge, 20,000 square meters, a city within a city. We spent hours wandering around and taking pictures. Our Spanish lessons came in handy as the English translations around the site were so poor we found ourselves reading the Spanish captions instead.

Una Vista desde Arriba

After the monastery, we made our way to the Plaza de Armas, reputedly the most beautiful plaza in Peru. It was indeed quite pretty, but all the vendors and shoeshine boys and people chasing us innocent bystanders around with menus made it impossible to enjoy. I bought a small hand-painted picture from a local, but then once it was seen that I was open to buying something, even more people started accosting us to buy things. We were forced to flee the area to maintain our sanity. We retreated to our hotel to siesta before dinner.

La Plaza de Armas de Arequipa

As we were looking for dinner tonight, we passed a German restaurant with a special on tequila and currywurst - Yikes! Even if Tom's stomach wasn't already bothering him, I think we would have had to pass. Any sane person I think would have to pass. We settled on a place that served vegetarian meals and hamburgers. We should have known better. It was not good.


Continue to day 4.

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