Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Leaving Arequipa

Well, I just realised that this is my 100th post on this blog. Ah well, if you missed the other 99 you have some catching up.

Ariquipena Cerveza Queen

The final couple of days in Arequipa passed quickly enough. I mainly attended Spanish and salsa classes as normal and said my goodbyes to my teachers, respectively Carmen and Christian. I also dropped into the the bar Cafe & Vino for a final copa of his excellent Bordeaux and chilled out there among the to me at least, unintelligible french speakers.

The last dance in Arequipa

Bar Cafe y Vino, Claustro de la Compania
We planned and executed a small but successful house party with me inviting mainly cycling friends and Marta my cajón teacher. She was a big success, playing the guitar and singing well known Peruvian songs. The Party continued until around 1am and it was a really nice and diverse group.

Apartment hunting and Spanish school friends
Marta entertaining cyclists
My penultimate day was all go. I went to the centre with Chad and Johanna and we enjoyed a coffee overlooking the plaza with a great vantage point for watching the carnival procession and lively battles of water and foam spray. Carnival in Arequipa is more understated than Cajamarca but even in our small urbanizacion there was a spontaneous water fight, but here at least no throwing of paint bombs.

Me at Plaza de Armas, Arequipa

Later we had lunch in Capriccio's joining with Laura's happy band of expats and we made considered western world comparisons of the merits of local bathroom facilities and the advisability of carrying a personal supply of toilet paper. Laura asked me what I would look forward to most on my return to the UK and after giving it some thought it came down to friends and family and the relative certainty of western style living, bus timetables, less pollution, less sugary/salty food and maybe road bikes, oh and of course not tossing the loo paper in a box! That said, I haven't really craved for any of thise things.

That afternoon I was also scheduled for my last meeting with my cycling buddies. We gathered in the garden of William and barbecued pork steaks and salchitas. True to form the group partook of quite a lot of pisco and I furnished a bottle of Black Label. Everyone was very kind and as well as making embarrassing speeches they all signed a photo, presented me with a team shirt and Dante had produced a 12 minute video of some of my various cycling trips. How kind they all were and I count myself as very lucky to have enjoyed the company of such a fing group of cyclists.

Jesus at the BBQ

The next day chad and Johanna accompanied me to the airport and gave me a nice piece of polished aquamarine and we said our goodbyes. They have been great people with whom to share time and space and I have no doubt they will continue to shape their lifestyles to the challenges of living here in peru, and add their own style and flavour of life to Arequipa's growingly  diverse community. 

Chad and Johanna

Well, I guess in summary, with about 2 months in Arequipa I could happily recommend it to anyone. It is very much in change but the variety of its lifestyles and places offers much to travellers of all kinds and I at least have experienced nothing but kindness and friendliness from Ariquipeños.

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