Monday, August 26, 2013

Oh The Places You'll Go: Arequipena version

It has been a whirlwind here. Between adjusting to our families, going to classes, meeting Peruvian students, learning Arequipa's public transport, exploring the city, and doing it all in Spanish, we are both drop-dead tired and energized. Our professor, La Profe Maria Elena (as she is known here), has done her best to help us adjust by giving us opportunities to laugh at ourselves together, offering a shoulder to cry on, trying to fix every problem, and listening to us as we grow.

Our families and schedules are all different and we live in different areas of the city, but there are a few parts in common.

  • The largest meal is lunch and it is generally around 1:30 or 2. Dinner is later in the evening around 7 or 8 and usually consists of something very light. For example, we might eat one or two of the following: yogurt, bread, some avocados, some tea, or warm milk. 
  • Most meals are eaten with the entire family present. Meals are definitely time to share life together.
  • Most families are used to their own children staying out late on the weekends (4 or 5am) so when we come back from hanging out somewhere between 12 and 2am, we sometimes surprise our parents. 
  • It is very common to greet your family every time you enter or leave the house and the custom in Perú is a kiss on the left cheek with females or a handshake between males. 
  • Instead of saying "Adios," the common phrase is "Chau" (pronounced ch-ow) and when we leave, our parents always say it. 

So, what have we been doing besides adjusting to a new family, city, country, and culture? Arequipa excursions! Here are a few of the places we've visited:

El Monasterio de Santa Catalina:

Welcome to the entrance of the monastery (left). The majority of the walls were this beautiful red. It is a natural pigment but we had to be really careful! It rubs off really easily and can turn any fabric red with just a light touch!
Before the walls were tinted, they were this beautiful white (right). The people of Arequipa call the monastery a city within a city because there was everything needed to live there. Not only that, but the passageways have street names. This complexity meant that we weren't allowed to wander by ourselves; there are so many streets that getting lost is too probable.

The monastery did not actually house monks, but rather, it housed nuns. The nuns would wash their clothes in the basins (above left) and do a lot of artwork (right). The artwork was done because sometimes, the nuns couldn't speak each others' languages. With the artwork, it was much easier to teach the truths of the Bible.

Our professor, Lizarraga, joined us in our tour of the monastery (far right in the picture on the right). He knows a lot and is teaching the history part of The Hispanic World as well as our Ethnographic Studies class. We were trying to read the older form of Spanish and found it difficult, but Prof Lizarraga helped translate it.

La Catedral:

In the middle of Arequipa is the Plaza De Armas which is basically a public park with a fountain in the middle, lots of benches, and lots of trees. It takes up a full city block. On the north side of the park is the cathedral. The cathedral is beautiful and has an organ with 1,157 pipes!

Something super unusual in this cathedral is that there is a statue (left) that has the Devil in it. Usually, the Catholic Church would not want the Devil in any church, but in this instance, God is crushing the Devil and the Devil is crying under God's mighty power.

After seeing some of the historical items (no pictures allowed!), we went to the top of the cathedral. It was amazing up there. We took many pictures, marveled at the city, and people watched! The cathedral overlooks La Plaza De Armas so we could see everything that was happening down below.

La Momia Juanita:

We were not allowed to take pictures of the Momia Juanita, but I'm going to use the explanation from Megan's blog because she explained what happened really well:
We had the opportunity to view the Inca mummy, Juanita, this week. We are lucky we are in Arequipa when we are since she is only allowed to be viewed at certain times of the year for preservation's sake. Juanita is a very special mummy because she is probably the best-preserved mummy to ever be found. If you know anything about the tops of the mountains here, then you know that they are very cold which is great for preservation.  When Juanita was found, there were still significant remnants of skin (her hand!), hair, and her some of her clothes even! The two archaeologists that found her then carried her down the snowy mountain on their backs.
Juanita was probably the daughter of a chief in her village. We know this because of the large pins that tied her clothes together (the bigger the pins, the more important you are). She was offered as a sacrifice to the gods, which means it was most likely during a time of famine or drought. For this sacrifice, she was made to walk up the mountain with an entire caravan. She was only 14 years old, so it was very likely that she had to be carried some of the way as this mountain was HUGE. At the top there were some ceremonial rituals performed. She was then given a drink with high alcohol content to make her feel tranquil in her final moments. She was then given a fatal conk to the head (which was actually a lucky way to die as some child offerings were strangled or burned). After her death she was sat in her tomb with her back against the wall with her knees folded in front of her. The tomb contained all of the possible things she would need in her next life. After Juanita's discovery, there were several more child sacrifices found in the surrounding area but were damaged by lightning and were not as well preserved.  

El Tour de la Campiña: 

We took a tour all around the city of Arequipa to see some of the countryside and some historic sites. Our first stop overlooked the beautiful mountains - Misti and Chachani. We hovered around the Ekeko which is a traditional god for a photo and you can see Chachani in the background.
The next stop was the lookout of Yanahuara. The arches are beautiful and we happened to stop by when there was a traditional dance going on! The dresses the ladies wear are so colorful and beautiful, even if the dance is not very intricate. There is a lot of spinning involved to see the full skirts and bright colors.

Our next stop was the house of the founder of Arequipa. It has a lot of history and rather than a house, it is more like a plantation! It has its own chapel, gardens, and animals.

We particularly enjoyed the alpaca and llama that were outside We learned from a Peruvian brother that we can actually pet them and also learned that  they spit, quite a lot!

The next place we went was a mill (right). Although the mill might not look like much, it really is a grand area filled with gardens and lawns, animals and waterfalls, trees and flowers. We had a lot of fun just walking around, taking pictures of the beautiful outdoors, and jumping over the little river.

All in all, it's been a crazy busy start, but we are loving it. Some of our group have been sick so prayers for health would be much appreciated. However, we are making lots of friends in our group and everyone gets along well. We've been making some Peruvian friends as well and they teach us a lot!

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