Friday, July 31--Lima, Peru

I left today for Peru, had a 12 hour flight with 2 stops--first in Guatemala City, then in San Jose, Costa Rica. Long day. I was happy to finally land in Lima, Peru at about 8:00 PM. I had planned ahead and reserved at a hostel as well as set up a ride from the airport. Of course, the ride was late! When I got off the plane, there was someone with a sign with my name--I´ve always wanted my own sign at teh airport--but she was only there to greet me, we had to wait another 1/2 hour for the driver.

Ricoard, my taxi driver finally go there, and as we drove through a dark Lima he wanted to practice his English and teach me a bit of Spanish. Lima was dark and hardly anyone outside.

Got to my hostel safely, had dinner, tried to use the phone but couldn´t figure it out, and went to bed to get up early.

Saturday, July 31--Areqipa, Peru

Got up at 4 for a 6:00 AM flight to Arequipa. The airport is tiny--not even big enough for the planes to go up to the gate. You have to get on a bus that takes you to the plane. Lima is the same population as NYC, though! This morning the airport was very crowded and no one knew how to form a line, so it was crazy.

The flight was only an hour and fifteen minutes, with views of brown mountains and volcanoes, some with snow. I went straight to the hotel I had been recemmended, got settled in, and decided to nap as I had a headache--possibly altitude related.

When I woke up at noon--yes, Mom, I slept until noon!--I went out to explore the city. About as block form the hotel is the Santa Catalina Monastery. There was an English tour starting, so I joined that. The Monastery is huge, like a city in itself with streets that are named and many courtyards with gardens. It was originally set up for the daughters of wealthy families and the nuns had parties, etc. They even each had thier own servants and cooks. Now it´s open to the public except for the area that 30 nuns still live in. I had a great time getting photos as it´s so beautiful. At one point we were lead to a rooftop with a view of the city, and I noticed a nearby building with peple outside at a higher level than we were. I said, "hey, how did thye get that cool place....wait, that´s my hotel!" The others on the tour were amazed to hear that I only paid $3.50 to stay there, and the tour guide siad the hotel had the highest balconies of any in the city.

Spent the rest of the day wandering the cobbled streets and sitting in the park watching people. I saw two wedding parties walking aroudn and taking pictures, and many young adults gathered on the steps of the cathedral. Finally, I enjoyed a wonderful sunset from the rooftop of my cool hote.!

I did try Mate de Coca today, a tea made from Coca leaves meant to help with altitude. Good stuff actually, and my headache did subside a bit. Apparently locals also chew the coca leaf for more direct relief from many ailments including effects of altitude.

Chilly here at nighttime, ended up with a few layer on to go out at night.

Sunday, August 1--Arequipa, Peru

I got up today, had a good breakfast, and headed out to a local museum about recent excavations on the vocanoes. The museum houses a famous mummy, Juanita, found on a nearby volcanoe. Since there have been more found in the Andes, most in Peru. It was thought that these were child sacrfices, offerings to the gods. There was a National Geographic film about it, and teh museum wasn´t as grisly as I though it would be.

Took a nap for siesta in the afternoon, and squared away bus tickets, etc. for the next few days. Since it was Sunday, most things closed early. I walked aroudn quite a bit, exploring the local neighborhoods, then joined the local on the cathedral steps to watch life.