I’m tired and just want the bus company to load my luggage onto the bus to Arequipa, so I can board and sit down. The bus station is loud, and I keep checking in at the bus company desk. My luggage sits safely in a back room, and the young man at the desk keeps telling me that there is no reason for worrying. He kindly repeats that I should board the bus, and my luggage will follow soon. I refuse. I want to see with my own eyes that my luggage gets on this overnight bus from Cusco to Arequipa.
Making A New Friend – the University Student
I see another solo woman, and ask, “Are you waiting for your luggage, too?” It turns out we’re on the same bus to Arequipa, and her luggage is already on a huge wheel-barrow style luggage cart in front of us. There’s still plenty of space on it, so maybe my luggage will get loaded onto this cart, too. While we wait, we chat in Spanish, since she’s Peruvian, and I don’t bother asking if she speaks English. My Spanish has come back over the past few weeks. After 2 weeks in Perú, I can speak without thinking, just like when I was a little kid.
This young woman has beautifully smooth, straight brown hair. She has a beautiful face with big, brown eyes, and she tells me she’s been in Cusco for the university. Now it’s a break between school terms and she’s heading home to visit her family in Arequipa. After a bit, the bus company man comes over and tries convincing us both to board the bus, since it’s getting later. Unfortunately for him, together this woman and I stand our ground and remind him that our luggage isn’t on the bus yet.
While chatting, I mention that I love photography, and want to photograph Arequipa. Could she recommend nice places? She suggests a few, including Santa Catalina Monastery. And, then suddenly, a high-school aged boy comes towards us with my luggage, puts it on the cart, and starts wheeling all the luggage outside towards our bus. We follow him and say our goodbyes as we board since our seats are far away. We’ll see each other in the morning in Arequipa.
I find my seat near the front of the bus. As soon as I’m settled, I start tagging all the pages in my guidebook with the places she recommended I visit in her hometown. Then, I read about the monastery.
Making Another New Friend – the Soccer (Fútbol) Player
My bus seatmate is a boy straight out of high school. He is a mid-level professional soccer player in Cusco on his way home to Lima for a week with his family. He’ll change buses in Arequipa. We chatted a bit on the bus. Mostly he laughed at my surprise when snacks and juice were served– better than most flights within the United States!
I entertained him again when I questioned why the movie playing at high volume for all the passengers was extremely violent. “What if there were kids onboard?” I asked as I watched another actor getting hacked to death. He explained that the movie was selected by the bus attendant onboard, who obviously, would have played a tamer movie if there had been kids onboard. I was satisfied with that answer.
Pro Tip – Bus Rides
Whenever I’m seated next to a stranger, especially a man, I chat with them a bit before going to sleep– it’s my way of making sure they’re a normal, regular person. If they seem too weird, I would look for another seat, although this has never happened. I’ve been lucky!
Our bus arrived in Arequipa, Peru at 6 or 7 in the morning (it was a little too early for me to pay close attention). Along the way, I had made 2 friends. The soccer player’s connecting bus to Lima would not depart until late afternoon, and the woman’s family was still asleep this early on the weekend. Therefore, the three of us collected our bags and made our way out of the bus station together.
Arriving in Arequipa, Peru
The three of us gathered our luggage and found a taxi driver who said he knew a hotel that would meet my requirements– near the town center, quiet, and with a garden. It turned out that the hotel proprietor was an elderly woman who didn’t hear the doorbell or her phone. Standing outside the locked gate, we rang the doorbell about 20 times, while our taxi driver called from his cell phone. Eventually, she heard us and buzzed the gate open. (I think her grandson was inside and told her the phone was ringing.) All was well, and I got my room.
Santa Catalina Monastery: Peru Travel Photography in Arequipa
By late morning my two new friends had made their way to their families. Therefore, I visited Santa Catalina Monastery alone.
Unsurprisingly, I agree with everyone who recommended I visit the Santa Catalina Monastery. Built in 1579, it is known for its bright colors and peaceful patios. A café is in one of the patios. Entrance: 40 soles, payable by cash or credit card at the front gate (approx. $12 USD).
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Have you visited Arequipa? Where was your favorite place for Peru travel photography in Arequipa? If you haven’t visited yet, where would you like to visit? Comment below!
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