A Colourful Change of Scene

When my good friends from university Chris and Charlotte came to visit a few weeks ago, I really wondered how I could make them feel as far away as possible from their London homes…

Walking around Arequipa was different enough for sure (the burning hot sun, loud interactions in Spanish and the snow-capped volcano looking down upon us, to name just a few differences) but I knew there was one place in the city that would really make them feel like they’d stepped into a new world. A very colourful, quiet world, that felt worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the historical centre.

The Santa Catalina monastery was ours on a Sunday morning, there was hardly anyone around so we were free to roam around under the boiling sun and take in the colours… but most of all, the tranquility.

 

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Aside from being one of the biggest religious structures in South America, the Santa Catalina monastery is also one of the most beautiful: just look at those never-ending colourful archways, and glowing flowers filling the air with their scent.

 

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(Let’s not tell the nuns, shall we…) 

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Some of you may recognise the archways in the background from the cover photo of the blog… well spotted! That photo was taken almost three years ago, when I first visited the monastery with my volunteer buddies.

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Someone was rather intrigued by a 400-year-old kitchen!

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We strolled in an out of the archways, slipping into little alcoves, kitchens, prayer rooms….

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I have so much love for this girl. From the cobbled streets of our university town in St Andrews, to all the Skype conversations as our friendship became long-distance, to having her here in the flesh with me for a little while, she always makes me feel so extremely safe, understood and valued. Charlotte, if you’re reading this, you’re so important to me! Love you, poulette!

Clearly having way too much fun…

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We wandered for hours between little blue alcoves and bright red alleyways, resting every now and again in the shade.

 

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Fancy meeting you here, señor.

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Where blue met red!

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As we walked deeper and deeper into the monastery, we reached what was known as “the red village”.

 

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…complete with street names!

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Never-ending alleyways, leading into little secret rooms… oh if the walls could speak!

 

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The view from the top!
 
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I think I succeeded in providing total immersion into the life of a Peruvian nun of the 1700s!
We left with sore feet and sunburnt shoulders, but thoroughly relaxed. Stepping back into the real world was a shock!
After a quick “criolla” sandwich and an afternoon of rafting up in the Chilina valley, it was time to finally have a relaxing sit-down meal. We walked up way too many flights of stairs, until we reached… that view.
 
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[caption id="attachment_204" align="alignnone" width="4608"]OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Tired but happy travelers!

When it came to ordering, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind, it had to be “lomo saltado”. (Yep, still my favourite)

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Charlotte went for an alpaca fillet over a quinoa risotto…

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Whilst Chris went down a more adventurous route with his “rocoto relleno”. Just look at that spicy deliciousness!

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Having had our fill of culture, history, adventure and good food, it was an early night for us after that!

Next up: the time we went, we saw and we conquered at Machu Picchu…

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