As we count down our days in Peru, we finish with a taste of local culture in the White City, Arequipa, named after the its white volcanic stone, Sillar.
Surrounded by volcanoes....and I have to say it...more Plazas...squares..churches..fountains...hehehe... sensing a pattern yet??
but... giving Arequipa a break from the usual Spanish Colonial influence, it takes pride in having the most beautiful Central Square, Plaza de Armas, in the whole of South America... then again...not sure who rated it...hehehehe..
We are so fortunate to meet Lidia´s sisters, Angelica and Roxanna, who were both born and raised in this city. They took us on board like long lost children despite not knowing a word of English....yup...I´m so thankful for those two months of Spanish lessons!!! A blessing!
Thanks to their endless kindness, we tasted local dishes, met their families, were welcomed into their homes...and wait for this.... danced the ..afternoon ...away in their local hang out...
Sorry, did I mention Roxanna is in her 40´s with a beautiful 9 year old daughter, Sophia, and Angelica is in her 50´s and a proud grandmother....hehehe...put us all to shame with their dancing spirit.
With local knowledge in hand, we checked out the two most important tourist attractions...the Museum which holds the Mummy Juanita and the Santa Catalina Monastery.
I would have to rate this museum as one of the best in the world....for the sheer closeness to the Incan way of life.
Juanita, was a 12 year old girl, who was sacrificed by the Incas, to make peace with Mountain Gods at around 1440. She was buried at around 6000 feet but with the activity of the volcano, rolled out of her grave and was discovered by anthropologist, Johan Reinhard, in southern Peru.
As you are guided through the museum, you learn more of the Incan sacrifices of children and women. You are amazed to find there were around 18 bodies found but the most well preserved was Juanita. You are shown her clothing and the many artefacts that were buried around the children.
However, little do you realise, you can actually see Juanita, preserved in below 20 degrees centigrade. Incredible. The closest you will ever be to an Incan..