I could have stayed a few more days in Cusco. There were still plenty of things to see. But I had been there for about a week and felt the need to move on. My time was getting shorter too. I had only one month left before going back to Belgium and still so many things I wanted to see.
My next stop was Arequipa, which is a cute little city, but the main thing I wanted to see there was the canyon. And the condors. I registered for the two days’ excursion directly at the hotel and then thought about how to spend the rest of my day.
Arequipa is not very big. Therefore, even though I didn’t have a map or the slightest idea of what there was to see in the city, the chances were big that I would come across the Monastery of Santa Catalina. Which is, of course, exactly what happened. The religious building was erected in the sixteenth century. The tradition of the time indicated that the second son or daughter of a family would enter a life of service in the Church, and the monastery accepted only women from upper class Spanish families. Something you can see from the comfort they seemed to enjoy, compared with other monasteries, and from the beauty of the place, which is extensive, colourful and filled with flowers. I don’t know if the flowers were there about 500 years ago the same way they are now but I hope so. If you’re to be locked up for the rest of your life, no matter how comfortable and colourful the place is, the least they can do is to provide you with some flowers. Apparently, about 20 nuns still live there but I didn’t see any of them.
While I was enjoying lunch on a small terrace, on a patio across the monastery, I spotted a man with a camera similar to mine… but with accessories I had never seen. I couldn’t resist my curiosity, so I asked the owner what they were for. He was a Chilean journalist and used them for video recording. I got a quick explanation… as well as an invitation for a concert that night. There was some sort of festival going on and that was what he was going to be reporting on. I would probably have accepted… if I hadn’t registered for that excursion that required me to be ready around 3.30 a.m. Well… Actually, when I asked for confirmation of the time, I was told they would pick me up between 3.00 and 3.30. Somehow, I decided not to acknowledge the nuance. In any case, I’d better be sure to be in bed on time and couldn’t accept the invitation.