queso helado, take II
This tasty ice cream-like concoction is a distant cousin to egg nog and its creamy egg infused flavor is contagious. We couldn't get enough of it. Just look for a girl out in front of a small eatery. She'll be stirring frantically with a wooden spoon into a huge metallic bowl. One place that has it is Pasteleria Holandesa at Moral 109-B. It's also a great cheap place to try other local specialties. Our favorite was similar to an empanada but made of mashed potatoes filled with ground meat and served with raw onions and cilantro. Wash it down with the local soda, Escoresa (WAY better than Inca Kola!) and then get ready for desert, freshly made queso helado! YUM and the main reason I'll ever go back to Arequipa again...lol It's tough to spend three bucks in this place too. :))
Queso Helado - a Peruvian dessert!
This restaurant is actually located at the Posada Del Puente hotel. Crossing the Avenida Grau bridge, you`ll see a low, white iron gate with steps descending - seemingly under the bridge. This is the entrance to the hotel and the entry to the restaurant is in front of you as you approach the lobby.
The staff are very nice and the food is excellent - and it`s open late - until 11:30 p.m.! Queso helado - a Peruvian dessert is a sort of cheesecake ice cream - though not nearly as rich-tasting as cheesecake. We paired this with apple pie - a heavenly combination!
Monasterio de Santa Catalina
This "monastery" is actually a convent and a massive one at that, covering 20,000 square feet! It's impressive enough from the outside but once within, you will be entralled but the colorful "neighborhoods" and spending an entire afternoon here is not out of the question.
"Landscape and fashion"
Arequipa is a very beautiful city. And no, it's not because I was born there that I see it with such proud eyes. I mean, I am very critical of the society that inhabits the city, but if the city were to lay on its own, free from the abuses of people, it would undoubtedly be perfect. It lays in a valley, surrounded by volcanoes, the most majestic being the cone shaped Misti. The Misti sits in the middle of the Pichu Picchu to its right and the Chachani to its left.
Not long ago, it was a common site for the Misti to be snow capped; the snow even went down below its waist, but thanks to global warming, the Misti has had to go naked and rid itself of the snow hat and skirt as they melt again and again. Misti's friend to the right, the Pichu Picchu, who had a perpetual snowy summit, is also suffering from the detrimental climate change. Only the Chachani is retaining its white icy outfit.
In terms of Arequipa's weather, I think it is perfect. Dry climate, if you venture out of the valley you would think you have reached the Sahara desert. The city itself, due to its high altitude-2,380 meters M (7,740 feet FT) during the day time the intense sun can make it seem like it is 80 degrees, but in the shade a nice cool breeze can cool one off really quickly. It can get a bit chilly at night, especially during the winter months of June-August, but even the coldness is not very extreme. The most I have seen it go down has been 30 degrees. So, for practical purposes bring a pair of shorts, t-shirt, sweater, jeans, sandals and shoes/hiking shoes. A hat and sun block is also a must. During the day you can wear shorts, t-shirt and sandals, and at night jeans, long sleeve shirt, sweater and even a wool/alpaca hat during the winter months (June-August).
"Historical synopsis of Arequipa"
Nestled between the desert plains of the Peruvian southern coast and majestic volcanoes, the city of Arequipa, believed by many to be a true mestizo city, is the biggest urban area between Lima, the capital of Peru, and Santiago, the Chilean capital. Arequipa sits in a valley at an altitude of 7,627 feet. Since its remote past, Arequipa has been home to many different ethnic and cultural groups. Archeological evidence found, such as rupestrian paintings and stones with carved drawings, suggest that Arequipa has been inhabited since between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago (Paleothic Era) (Neira, Galdos, Málaga, Quiroz, & Carpio, 1990). Arequipa was the homeland of many different civilizations such as the Nazca, Wari, Tiahuanaco and the Puquina, the most extensive in Arequipa (Ugarte y Chocano, 2006). Moreover, different ethnic groups, such as the Collas and Collahuas, of Aymara descent, settled along Arequipa’s Chili River thereby producing the first wave of mestizaje in the area (ibid).
The Incas, led by Huayna Ccapac, arrived in Arequipa and incorporated the territory into their Empire. The chronicles suggest that Huayna Ccapac, who was then reigning in the Cusco region, selected, among chiefs and expeditionary soldiers, three thousand families and encouraged/forced/invited them to leave their homes and resettle in the Inca’s newly conquered territory of Arequipa. Their resettlement expanded the locale and new small towns (now known as districts) sprung around the original nucleus of the area (Bustamante y Rivero, 1949).
Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, the valley of Arequipa had been turned into an oasis through the establishment of sophisticated systems of irrigation and agricultural terracing in the mountains by its native populations (Chambers, 1999). In 1540, Arequipa was once again colonized (founded); this time, by the Spaniard Manuel Garci de Carbajal on behalf of the Spanish crown (Polar Ugarteche, 1985). Arequipa’s legacy during the colonial period comes from its architecture that would not have been possible without its extensive and exclusive use of sillar , and the influence of the many sculptors of indigenous and mixed descent. The fusion of motifs and natural features taken from their own milieu gave birth to the city’s original architectural style (Bailey, 2000).
It is in the adornment of the city’s important buildings, churches, convents, and colonial houses that the originality of the architectural style, known as “mestizo style” or “andean baroque”, is made visible. The decoration varies widely, but according to Gisbert and de Mesa (1985), it falls within three fundamental groups: native flora and fauna, like the cherimoya fruit, cacao, monkeys, etc.; European renaissance and Christian symbols, such as mermaids, large masks, portrayal of saints, etc.; and pre-columbian symbols, such as felines and masked heads that resemble pre-Hispanic prototypes.
"Arequipa's cultural identity"
Arequipa’s mestizaje is the product of a long history of migrations, resettlements, colonization(s), and peaceful encounters. Juan G. Carpio Muñoz (1990) reminds us not to forget that the Spaniards that first arrived in the 1500s already mestiza Arequipa were themselves the product of mestizaje. Their mestizaje was the result of long and complicated historical encounters, such as eight centuries of Arabic (muslim) dominance. Other influences present were latin (christian), jewish, iberian, etc. (p.727). According to the author the encounter between Andean peoples and European peoples in Arequipa created a “symbiotic” Arequipean cultural identity. Hence, what is considered particularly Arequipeño is not the product of two cultures existing parallel to one another (as it occurred in the mestizaje in Cusco); rather, andean and hispanic cultures have blended together and created a new native Arequipean culture. Quiroz Paz Soldan (1991) agrees asserting that Arequipa is a true ethnic and cultural melting pot . Andean and western cultural components have mixed due to contact in differing degrees; thereby, creating original cultural, artistic, and linguistic expressions- a mestizaje.
Arequipa’s Spanish language variety (dialect) also shows the fusion of the encounters between its diverse populations. Arequipeños continue to use archaic vocabulary that is not longer used in Spain. Other interesting linguistic characteristic is the retention of the phonological distinction between the phonemes [ly] and [y] - a strong characteristic of the Spanish that was spoken in many areas of Spain during the colonial period. Additionally, Arequipean Spanish has lexicon only found in Arequipa; this vocabulary or “arequipeñismos ” as they are known, is the result of the blend between the Spanish language and native languages (particularly Quechua and Aymara) (Ugarte y Chocano, 2006).
Arequipeños are known throughout the country as proud people who feel themselves distinct, if not “culturally” more original than the rest of Peruvians. There are many regionalist jokes about Arequipeños and how they claim not to be Peruvians, but rather from the “country” of Arequipa. There is an Arequipeño passport that is sold in bookstores and at the airport used only in jest, as well as a symbolic currency called the Characato, named after the traditional Arequipean campesino (farmer). Many believe that Arequipa’s geographical isolation is a factor that influenced the collective character, linguistic particularity, artistic originality and regionalist pride of its people. It wasn’t until the mid 1800s, with the installation of the railway system, which connected the valley with the coast, that Arequipa opened its commercial traffic, and facilitated the import of new cultural influences (Polar Ugarteche, 1969).
It was during its early days as a Republic that Arequipa became known as “ciudad caudillo” due to its population’s constant fight for human rights and democratic system (ibid). During the xx century Arequipa gained the reputation of being the center of right-wing political power and represented the interests of the oligarchy. However, in the recent years with the new migrant population into the city, new populist interests have emerged.
Arequipa has been the host of constant migrations and resettlements, and throughout its history it has played host to diverse cultural identities that have come together, blended and produced a dynamic Arequipeño cultural identity; an identity based on values shared by a large number of social groups. It has not been an excluding, isolating, and exclusive cultural identity; rather, according to Quiroz Paz Soldan (1991), all its diverse elements have come together to produce a strong regional identity that allowed newcomers to adopt it, while at the same time allowing them to be contributors of its dynamic form.