October 16, 2005
This morning, Morad and I moved to a different hostel. It's nicer than the other one, but I still can't do laundry here, and there are still no power outlets in any of the rooms. I'm trying hard to conserve batter power in my cameras and computer, but I use them so much, it isn't easy.
This afternoon, we went to the Santa Catalina Monastery, which is right across the street from the new hostel. I know going to a monastery sounds pretty boring, but this place is incredible. It was built over 400 years ago and takes up two city blocks. Normally being a nun means no having fun, but their were lots of big parties at Santa Catalina for hundreds of years until 1871 when the Pope sent Sister Josefa Cadena to put a stop to the ruckus. Even then, the nuns still had their own living quarters, with a kitchen and bedroom. What went on inside was a complete secret until 1970 when it was finally opened to the public. Walking through the monastery was like walking back in time hundreds of years. The entire place was like a city within a city with its mazes of streets and houses. I was told it's the only must-see attraction in Arequipa, and now I know why.
After I got back from the monastery, I was able to get some pretty good sunset pictures from the rooftop of my hostel. I also got a shot of an eerie full moon rising above a nearby church dome. Arequipa is at an altitude and latitude that makes the weather perfect year-round, a true Goldilocks city. It is 75 degrees and sunny here every day.
Later on, Morad and I bought tickets to go to Chivay tomorrow. The town is located at the bottom of a valley 3700 meters (12,139 feet) above sea level. It's also where the Colca Cañon starts. I think we'll probably go to Yanque (fitting, I know), which is the next town in the valley, because apparently Chivay is too touristy. We figured we could be more adventurous and save some money by not hiring a guide to go trekking into the canyon.