#5 Peru, February 19, 2000

Dear Everybody,

Well, I left off at Nazca—which wasn’t exactly what I had expected. I went up in a 6-seater airplane to see the lines.







I guess we were flying a little higher than optimum because of the turbulence so the lines or drawings were quite faint.





But I did see about a dozen of them—quite thrilling. Several people are making this their life work to try to discover the meaning.


I saw the whale, condor, hummingbird, astronaut, monkey, spiral, and others.







Then I visited the Coahuilla cemetery (from 300 BC to 700 AD) of the Nazca culture. There have been grave robbers over the 1500 years (and still are) so there are bones and textiles lying all over the surface. I picked up a tiny scrap of 2000-year old wrappings. I also saw the world’s largest sand dune that is 4600 feet high.

When I went to take the bus to Arequipa, the connections were horrible as one had to ride all night, so I took the luxury bus back to Lima instead, and spent two days catching up on CNN and email, and then flew to Arequipa for $39.

When I was on my morning walk in Lima, I encountered a young man that said he was from New York, and had had his wallet stolen. He said he was here on a work permit, and needed to get to Ica and would I give him 20 soles? I did ($7.25) but later I decided it was a scam—why didn’t I think to ask him questions like, “who is the mayor of NY?”  Well, I can add this expense to the general category of “scams”, which with the counterfeit 20 soles, is now up to $14.50!

Arequipa is a pretty colonial city with a lovely Plaza de Armas. The first day I visited one church, La Compania, with a fabulous chapel, and two 17th C. monasteries—actually one was a huge convent. For lunch I had scrumptious suckling pig.  I know, it doesn’t help my cholesterol, but was it good!

Then one day I took a long walk to two suburbs with very interesting churches from 1750.







The exteriors were carved elaborately with not only the typical religious figures, but also with pre-Colombian type motifs of birds, and fantastic animals.





Another day I had a guided tour through the Casa de Moral, a 220-year-old colonial house that was really wonderful. It had been restored by Mr. and Mrs. Williams in 1940 when they owned and lived in it.






The same day I visited the Casa Ricketts, another huge colonial house which is now a bank!  What a contrast to our banks, with its beautiful carvings around the courtyard, over all the doors and windows, including animal heads with downspouts coming out of their mouths.

Each day I start out after breakfast about 9:00 with sunshine and short-sleeved temperature. I do the walkabouts and looks until about 1:00. Then I head back to the hotel to change my shirt for a long-sleeved turtleneck as by this time it has clouded over and cooled off.  Then I eat my main meal of the day. After a leisurely almuerzo, (lunch) I go back to the hotel about 3:00 and read and watch TV.

The hotel is quite stunning. The front part (office, lounge, breakfast room) is a 220-year-old colonial house made of the white volcanic stone. Behind it is a new structure where the rooms are, which are roomy and pleasant, overlooking a pretty garden in the rear. There are lots of interesting “old things” here and there. There have been severe earthquakes in the city that have really wrecked havoc on the historic buildings, but they have all been nicely restored.  Today I caught a local bus to Paucarpata, a suburb of Arequipa, and saw their pretty 18th C. church.

Then I walked about three miles to the Molino de Sabandia, a mill built in 1621 and restored in the ‘70’s. A delightful place—and the mill worked!













There was wonderful Inca terracing nearby and they were planting potatoes. I took a cab to a wonderful restaurant, The Tradicion Arequipeno, which provided the best meal that I’ve had so far in Peru.


I had rocoto rellano, a semi-hot red bell pepper stuffed with meat and grapes with a béchamel sauce and a large portion of scalloped potatoes. I also had a half bottle of Ocucaje red wine from Ica but I see that the Tacama is better.  The lady at the Tacama winery in Ica that I visited said that they were “numero uno” in all of Peru so I’ll have that next time. I caught the local bus back and walked past Monza’s where I stopped for a cappuccino—the only fairly good coffee that I’ve encountered. A great day!

My friend, Jeanne Johnson, will arrive tomorrow—I’m looking forward to it because I’ve really had very little person to person contact on this trip—I’m not sure why. It will be nice to have a companion for two weeks.

Well, I guess that brings you up to date, and lets you know that everything is going fine.


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