Hello everyone! This was the week it hit us hard realizing just how long we have actually been in Peru. At the time of posting this we have been here for 38 days. It’s crazy to think that we have been in this country for over a month. Our week was yet again pretty uneventful, mostly filled with relaxing in our hotel garden. We did, although, have some excursions throughout the week to take up some of our time. One day we went to the Catedral de Companiña located right next to the city’s center. This place was beautiful and filled with lots of gold throughout the entire building. When going to the back of the building we found a small chapel room (which we cannot remember the name right now) that we relate to the Sistine Chapel yet smaller. The room was hand painted from floor to ceiling using paint that they made from animal fat mixed with fruits and vegetables. Adjoining the chapel was two courtyards that are described as cloisters which had multiple little shops in them. These were also quite nice to hang out in for a short while. Some people on Trip Advisor said to look for the lady selling queso helado in one of these squares and be sure to buy some so of course I (Hannah) had to try some and the people of Trip Advisor were not lying – that was some delicious helado.
Another day in Arequipa we went to an organic chocolate shop to learn about how they make chocolate here and how to make our own. A big portion of the countries cocoa beans are produced here in Peru and the making of chocolate dates back to when Hernando Cortez came and discovered this country. The cocoa bean was used as currency back during that time because of its great value. Women were bought as wives for 3 cacao beans, but in comparison, a rabbit would cost 20 cacao beans. We were shown how the bean goes from bean form to the texture we are most used to seeing chocolate in. We were even given an Andean chocolate drink made from beans that that had been roasted and then we ground ourselves. It wasn’t the best and we couldn’t finish the very small glasses we were given due to the true bitterness. Our instructor told us that Cortez would request this drink multiple times on a daily basis. We were also able to do some taste testing to see if we could tell the difference between artisanal chocolate and store bought as well as between dark and milk. After that was the making of our own chocolates where we were able to pick from different fillings/toppings to bring home. It has taken us a lot of will power to not eat the chocolate we made as Emily and I have some pretty large sweet teeth (almost a week without eating it and going strong).
The chocolate class ended around 7PM and we were very hungry so we went to the main plaza to look around for food. The police presence had grown and we realized that all the lights in the main square were off as well as one side of the plaza. Restaurants were lit by candlelight so we were not sure if they were cooking still. I, Emily, joked and asked Hannah if she would like to have a romantic candlelight dinner with me. Safe to say I got denied. We started walking on the main strip and suddenly every light on the strip around us went out and everything was black. People screamed and grabbed their loved ones close or the nearest police officer. I grabbed Hannah and we walked quickly towards the light, which luckily forus was in the direction of our hotel. We remembered a pizza place near our hotel that we started to head for and as we neared the hotel/pizza it was very smoky and started smelling like campfire. A campfire smell in a city with tons of smoke did not seem normal, but no one seemed worried so we just continued to walk. To this day we still have no idea what happened, but everyone made it seem like it happened often or was not a big ordeal. The next day, while relaxing in the garden, there was a sudden mini earthquake. By that I mean it lasted a maximum of three minutes, if that. Hannah was a little startled and, having been my first earthquake, I should have been, but I just sat there and said, “Oh yeah, I heard earthquakes are an occurrence here.” Earthquake and blackout down. Now we are wondering what Peru has in store for us next…
We also stopped by the large market one day, which is filled with fruits, veggies, meat stands, cheese, hats, and many more different items. They have some stands where you can eat lunch and this is where Hannah and I tried ceviche for the first time!
At the end of the week we headed to the town of Nazca on an overnight bus ride so that we could see the Nazca Lines. We ended up buying the nicer seats so they were much bigger and we were provided with individual TVs for entertainment (a little luxury for a tiny bit of the trip did not hurt). We arrived in Nazca pretty early in the morning and upon arrival we waited for over an hour until we figured out that the person from the tour we booked had forgotten to pick us up. We were able to drive somewhere to get wifi and Emily looked up the tour groups information so that we could get in contact with them. Soon after calling, about 2.5 hours after the bus dropped us off, we were able to be picked up and taken to the airport. Luckily we had plenty of experience waiting throughout our time in Peru, so we didn’t stress very much over the wait. While there we spent quite a while waiting again but the flight was very interesting. Our pilots didn’t give us a lot of information on the background of the lines, but to tell those of you who are not sure what these are, the basics is that they are large archaeological lines that date back to the incas and can only be seen from the sky. They are incredible because whomever designed/constructed these had no arial views of what they were constructing. The flight was a bit scary for both of us and my (Hannah) family especially knows how nervous of a flier I am, but it went well and we were able to get some good pictures that we will try and share with you.
We also wanted to just take the time and say thank you for the comments! They were just discovered by us a short time ago and we appreciate the well wishes and prayers. We just arrived in Puno and will reside here until our flight to Cusco Sunday morning, which we CANNOT wait for!
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