Arequipa has really captured our hearts. I'm not sure if it's because it's our first place or that we are finally relaxing or just the charming city itself where it's ok to "just be" but we have come to feel comfortable here in just a few short days.
There is no pressure in Arequipa. In the evenings, the plaza fills to the brim with people coming and going and stopping to say hello, surrounded by the tiny cars that zip around the city, honking like mad to make other driver's aware of their presence.
Some of our favorite things about Arequipa:
1. The noise. Arequipa isn't quiet. It's constantly filled with the honk, honk, honk of the taxi driver's. The city is formatted on a quadrant system so most intersections don't have traffic lights. It's first come, first through. Or better yet, he who honks first just keeps driving.
2. The food. Arequipa is surprisingly a food city. You can eat like a king at the best and newest restaurant in town for around $50 or devour a feast at one of the many hole-in-the-walls for $7. It's a city that is starting to develop an identity which includes a cocktail and craft beer scene.
3. No pressure. It doesn't matter what it is, there is no pressure in this city. Want to stop in the middle of the street to talk to someone-no problem. Want to sit on the steps of the cathedral for hours-no problem. Want to sit in a restaurant and talk for hours with a server/bartender/manager-no problem. It's as though they are fine with letting people just do their thing.
4. Just right. Arequipa is a city that isn't too big or too small. It's just right. It's small enough to offer everything you'd want within walking distance, but big enough to keep you guessing. We've wandered into little cubby holes to find antique shops, chocolate shops, music stores, coffee shops. You never know what you will find just by wandering through the door into a surprise courtyard
5. The fog. Every evening the fog rolls in off the mountains and blankets the city in an orange haze, lighting up the Plaza with a mystifying feel. In the morning, it rolls out and offers a great view of those mountains. Incredible.
Over the past week, other than spanish lessons, we've visited the Cathedral, the central market (where you can find everything... I mean everything, your heart desires), tried new fruits including granadilla (eat the seeds) and tuna blanco (aka cactus fruit, good for juicing) learned how to make a few new cocktails, tried alpaca filet (very much like pork), and gained confidence to cross an intersection without lights.
We would whole-heartedly recommend Arequipa and a big shout out to Brian's manager, Jose, for telling us it's a must-visit place. We couldn't agree more and will look forward to coming back for one more night on Sunday, following our two-day hike into Colca Canyon.