Santa Catalina Monestary

20130511-111008.jpg

They say it’s a city within a city, and marveling through the cerulean blue and burnt orange walls, we discover secret quarter after secret quarter, the nuns’ hard wood beds tucked in alcoves, straw mats and sheets remnants of a sliver of comfort.

And, their own personal kitchens and cuy habitations–AKA, rooms for their guinea pigs, fattened for future slaughter–and bathhouses.

These nuns live in the lap of luxury, once upon a time, sent across the continent for a lifetime, accompanied by personal servant and mucho dinero, for these are wealthy nuns, their sacrifice to a life a silence a penance for their families, proof of their devotion to the Church.

Imagining ourselves dressed in their habits, living between exclamations of color, we walk the Santa Catalina neighborhoods, from Toledo to Sevilla, arms turning shades of orange and azul as we brush against the pastel walls, elbows picking up colored chalk like pollen on bees. These women promise themselves to eternal vows of silence as manifestations of their devotion to their god, their religion, and having fleetingly practiced Noble Silence at a breakfast here and there, I cannot conceive of a lifetime of voicelessness, not for myself or for my hand servants.

Alas, these women do, their silence certainly equal parts gift and punishment, for their sacrifice to a higher power must have been the same equal measures of convenience and repentance. Photos of the later nuns reveal hard faces, bodies lost beneath mounds of holy garb, and one among the few appears to parlay miracles, if not words, Sister Ana of Los Angeles.

The kitchens recall medieval genius in their soot-covered mechanics, bathhouses outdoors, sinks made of half-broken vases filled by plugging the stream with a palm turned towards spicket.

It’s beautiful, this monastery with its arcade and frescos and rooms hidden within rooms.

We emerge refreshed, awed that such a structure arose five centuries ago, my favorite colors juxtaposed in splendid contrast, hot orange and cool blue.

20130511-110505.jpg

20130511-110514.jpg

20130511-110520.jpg

20130511-110528.jpg

20130511-110536.jpg

20130511-110543.jpg

20130511-110553.jpg

20130511-110559.jpg

20130511-110607.jpg

20130511-110615.jpg

20130511-110623.jpg

20130511-110645.jpg

20130511-110655.jpg

20130511-110703.jpg

20130511-110711.jpg

20130511-110718.jpg

20130511-110723.jpg

20130511-110731.jpg

20130511-110737.jpg

20130511-110744.jpg

20130511-110753.jpg

20130511-110812.jpg

20130511-110822.jpg

20130511-110834.jpg

20130511-110845.jpg

20130511-110902.jpg

20130511-110909.jpg

20130511-110914.jpg

20130511-110921.jpg

20130511-110930.jpg

20130511-111003.jpg

20130511-111013.jpg

20130511-111020.jpg

20130511-111026.jpg

20130511-111032.jpg

20130511-111039.jpg

20130511-111046.jpg

20130511-111052.jpg

20130511-111056.jpg

20130511-111101.jpg

20130511-111108.jpg

20130511-111112.jpg

20130511-111120.jpg

20130511-111125.jpg

20130511-111131.jpg

20130511-111135.jpg

20130511-111202.jpg

20130511-111215.jpg

20130511-111220.jpg

20130511-111225.jpg

20130511-111232.jpg

Advertisements
This entry was published on March 27, 2013 at 10:25. It’s filed under Peru and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Santa Catalina Monestary

  1. Michel on said:

    Santa Catalina is probably the most impressive place I have ever visited …And looking at your pictures its just as if I was there yesterday ! And Peru was my first ever long haul trip from Europe … And you were not yet born Gwendo !! Great stuff and well done Michel

  2. Marucia Britto on said:

    I am currently planning a trip to Cusco, Puno and Arequipa – Colpa Canyon for 7 of us (2 families, one from California and one from France). I found your blog this morning and I am having a blast reading it. Thanks for all the good information, the great writing and pretty pictures. It feels like I am already in Arequipa!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: