Arequipa

ihana.com - big trip - diary - peru - may 2003

New road to Arequipa

Flattened barrier with fresh graves

Wicked view

Thursday 22 - Friday 23 May

We had travelled the road from Arequipa to Puno in 2000, by bus, and it was that experience of being bounced about on the terrible surface which had made it obvious that our own transport was essential for this trip. Things have changed a bit since then though and a new sealed road has replaced the rocky track which used to cross the impressive mountains. We had our first brush with the police as expected, a roadside check. We didn't have our seatbelts on either and feared the worst as we prepared our usual bribe escaping banter. It wasn't necessary though, the officer was nice as pie, hoped we were having a nice time in his country and even suggested helpfully that we should wear our seatbelts in case of an accident.

Water pump shenanigans

Pressing needs

Tres alilos

Gobsmacked we continued through the afternoon towards the impressive sight of the three +5000m peaks surrounding Arequipa - El Misti, Pichupichu and Chachani. As dusk fell we came across some heavy plant machinery, the road isn't quite complete. Waiting in a queue for the manual traffic light (man with a torch) to change, we noticed a strange clunky noise coming from outside. A quick check under the bonnet revealed the water pump wobbling away wildly, obviously on its last legs. Turning up the stereo and keeping an eye on the temperature gauge, we swooped down the switchbacks, hoping it would last until we got to town.

We made it just in time to find a hotel with a carpark before we reached the centre, coolant dribbling out onto the street. Leaving the repairs for the morning we hit town for a bite to eat and check out the doris situation, which looked promising, giggling girls waving through the window of the restaurant at us. A bit of a dance about in a gringos and locals filled bar passed the evening well.

Plaza de Armas in Arequipa

El Misti in year 2000

The repairs didn't go quite as smoothly as hoped. We've been carrying a spare water pump since Buenos Aires as its death was inevitable but on further inspection it wasn't the right one. The mounting points for the fan were different and there was no way it would fit, oops. Luckily we noticed it would be possible to press off the head of the new pump and replace it with the head of the old one. Leaving the landy in the car park, we caught the bus up the road to to a local mechanic who swapped the heads round using his press.

After refitting the pump, the viscous fan unit was well wobbly, it had been damaged too so it was back to the mechanic to have that fixed. This time we drove there, the fanless motor feeling noticeably quicker. Whilst waiting for the viscous unit to be cut off and a simple fixed fan mounting made, we had a few drinks with a mate of the mechanic, a customs agent. He told stories of the organised smuggling of all sorts of stuff which comes into Peru from Chile and Bolivia. We also learned a lot of Peruvian slang for bedroom antics which we hope to try out later!

Arequipa is Peru's second city and is renowned for its colonial buildings and earthquakes. Its a university town too and has a two main streets lined with bars and discos - one in town just off the plaza and another in the outskirts. We went to a student disco in the latter which left a bit to be desired so headed to the former and a salsa joint with a terrible latino band. The locals seemed to love it though.

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