Arequipa is a super cool town, both architecturally and in its vibe, so most of the day finds us hoofing it to and fro as we peek into this store, check out this walkway, peruse this street.
For lunch, we settle ourselves into a quant bistro behind the cathedral, witnesses to threesome after threesome of clergymen escaping from a secret back door somewhere around the corner, robes long and dark, collars tall and starched, pantlegs visible beneath their clergymen attire. They walk with importance, shoulders arched back, bellied puffed forward, faces smooth with prestige’s kiss as they flutter away pesky subordinates and starstruck followers with a flicker of fingertips.
They emerge from the depths of their secret location like ants from anthill, and us, clearly out of sync with the Catholic Church’s pulse of holy days, wonder if this dispersal of god’s men is just another day in Arequipa or if their consolidation signals something big, something prominent, something sacred.
Like, duh, Easter.
How we forget that we break bread during la semana santa in one of South America’s more devout countries stupefies even me, and once the pieces of the holy puzzle fall into place, we understand the extra flowers and purses of goodies and candles and palm fronds and find our presence here serendipitous, for we might as well jump in with both feet and experience the rising of the JC with those who live it from their core.
It also means most of the town’s activity revolves around the cathedral on this fine day, leaving its meandering streets open to our curious eyes and eager feet. We pound cobblestone pavement uphill, through the town’s older calles where houses crowd glued together into a singular façade, lanterns beginning to dance with evening time.
Arequipa, we come to you on a whim, tricked into thinking you were a mandatory stop on our path to Cusco, mislead, it turns out, but happily so, for colonial city, you are beautiful.