by Janna Elwell, Greenheart Travel Volunteer in Chile
Once in Peru, it was as if the clouds miraculously parted and revealed the sun. From there on out, it was cuffed pant-legs, short-sleeved shirt, and sandals! Words cannot describe how refreshing it was to get out of my 3 layers (no exaggeration) of clothing I´ve become accustomed to wearing in Chile.
In Tacna, I boarded another bus for the 8 hour drive to Arequipa. The bus seat I got this time was on the top tier in the very front of the bus. This gave me a panoramic view with windows both in front of and to the sides of me. I wish that I had pictures to illustrate the breathtaking views of Peru that I got during that drive, but due to the inefficiency of taking pictures through windows (as well as a pair of dead batteries), those images are simply mine to treasure.
I arrived in Arequipa Saturday night, and because I was physically incapable of sitting on a bus any longer I found a hostel where I could sleep in a bed and use a shower before continuing to Cusco. The streets there were buzzing with all of the nightlife activity, and I wanted more than anything to go join. This is, once again, the woe of a lonely traveler. My bus didn´t leave until 12:30 the next afternoon, so I told myself I´d take a relaxing (and safe) night alone at the hostel, then go out the following day.
It had been dark when I arrived, but when I walked outside the next morning the sun had shed it´s light on one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. There were quaint and colorful buildings lining the cobblestone streets, historic church steeples peeking above them all, and the majestic Volcan Misti as the backdrop for the entire city. I happened to be there on the day of a festival (of which name I can´t remember), and people filled the Plaza de Armas. I could feel the culture brimming in the city and was so intrigued as I walked up and down the charming streets, stopping to talk with shopkeepers or locals in the plaza. I caught the tail end of a Catholic service being held in one of the historical churches. All in all, I completely fell in love with Arequipa to the point where I hesitated boarding the bus to Cusco. But of course I knew that there were new things to see and new people to meet there as well, so along I went. However, if any of you are ever in the proximity of Peru, Arequipa is without a doubt a must-see. I hope to be able to arrange it so that I have more time to spend there on my trip back to Santiago at the end of the week!
And now, after the final 10 hour bus ride from Arequipa, I am safe and sound in Cusco. I got in relatively late last night, found a hostel, and was asleep before I had even settled in. The plan is to head up to the base of the Inca Trail, a city by the name of Aguas Calientes, to stay tonight in order to get to the 7:00 AM tour of Machupicchu tomorrow morning! Emily and her group are already up there, and I hope to be able to meet up with them tonight. The following days will be spent here exploring through Cusco itself, and I am already looking forward to the adventures they are bound to bring.