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Feliz Ano Nuevo

with fireworks galore!

sunny

Our journey to Peru began early the next morning and we were quickly over the border where we crossed our fingers when Adam's passport was handed over, luckily after some grumpiness both sides found a spot to stamp. It was then much further on the Peruvian side to Puno, there were nice views for the most part though as the road stayed close to the lake. Once in Puno we were told we had about a half hour wait until our bus to Arequipa departed, which just gave us long enough to get some money out, pay the bus terminal tax which is standard in Peru and finally say our goodbyes to Yuri. As I said in the previous entry we were pretty sure we'd bump into each other again and we were now facebook friends so we could keep in touch. We hugged and said farewell as Yuri went off in search of a bed for the night.

Unfortunately our bus to Arequipa, after getting off to a reasonable start, got a flat tyre and we were stuck in the same spot for almost an hour as a couple of guys changed the tyre in the rain. I felt kind of sorry for them having to be out there but everyone else just seemed to get impatient and finally started banging their hands on the side of the bus and stamping their feet while shouting 'Vamos!' We thought maybe it was because it was New Years Eve and people had plans but we've experienced it a couple of times now, must be the fiery Latin blood! Finally we arrived in Arequipa and jumped in to a taxi which took us to Hostel Koala. Despite having a confirmation from the online booking site and a personal confirmation from someone at the hostel, the people working when we arrived had no knowledge of our reservation. There was no double room available so we were put in a twin, which was fine but it was annoying when we'd made the effort to book. By now it was about 6pm and we were knackered as we'd been travelling since 9am. Still it was New Years Eve and so we knew we had to find some energy reserves from somewhere.

After a bit of a lie down and a change of clothes we headed out towards the plaza which has some very beautiful Spanish buildings built of sillar, a pearly white volcanic material almost exclusively used in the construction of Arequipa.
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There was definitely a buzz on the streets, lots of people selling food items and the purchase of the night, fireworks. When we got to the plaza our eyes were drawn to the massive Christmas tree constructed using little flower pots containing artificial red flowers, the affect was very striking.
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Even though midnight was still a long way off it was already quite busy and we were pleased that we were spending New Years in a place with real atmosphere. Finding somewhere to eat was a little more tricky, we avoided the places on the plaza which seemed cheesy and touristy instead we went into a deserted pizzeria but quickly gathered they were only doing takeaway. We then tried another little restaurant which seemed to be doing a New Year special but despite it not being that busy they took an age to serve us and then didn't have what we wanted so we left. Finally we found ourselves in another pizzeria which ended up being really good, it was quite busy but the food came quickly and was really tasty.

With our appetites satisfied we went down to the plaza again and then just wandered the surrounding streets for a while soaking up the atmosphere. Then our sweet tooth led us into a small cafe where we shared a massive piece of chocolate cake. I think we were also hoping that the sugar rush would wake us up as we were both beginning to flag a little bit. Lots of other people weren't though and by now the plaza was packed, there were some street performers doing various comedy/music acts which the locals were enjoying. They were also having a lot of fun throwing bangers which meant that almost continuously there were gun shot sounds resounding off the buildings. Although that was nothing compared to what was about to kick off. As it was almost midnight we sat down in front of the cathedral and when there was about three minutes to go it all began to kick off. Fireworks were being let off left right and centre; some big, some small, and with the amount of people in such close proximity it all seemed a little risky. I kept having flashes of November 5th firework safety adverts on the tv and thinking at any moment I was going to witness someone losing a hand or an eye, or one of us was going to. After a while though you got used to it and now that it was definitely New Year although there was no countdown or chiming of a clock people embraced each other. The girl next to us kissed us on the cheek, rubbed confetti into our hair, and we all watched the spectacle in front of us, kind of like a pretty warzone. After a little while though our tiredness won out and we retired to bed.

Our 2010 got off to a pretty sedate start and we basically stayed in the hostel during the morning. A few of the other guest though, including one of the guys that worked at the hostel had clearly decided to continue the party into New Years Day. They started drinking at about 10am and didn't stop until the evening. As we sat in the corner of the common area using the laptop, continuing our search for flights, we watched them slowly get more and more intoxicated. At one point when we were back in our room there was a knock on the door and a big, drunk guy with long hair asked if I knew how to turn the radio off on a computer. I said I wasn't sure but I'd take a look and followed him into the computer room. He explained that he wanted to watch/listen to something on youtube but it was hard when the radio was playing too. I quickly looked at the computer then following the noise reached up and picked up a little radio off the shelf above us. I turned it off and smiled at him, he told me I was a genius and I left him to his youtube and can of beer. In the afternoon when another female worker turned up with her little daughter and she saw the drunk male worker a heated argument commenced and we decided it was time for dinner.

The following day was a lot quieter, the hangovers had clearly set in and there was a sedate atmosphere throughout the hostel. We also had another quiet day just having a little walk around the town, down to the river and back again.
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Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru and is certainly pretty; a nice place to spend a couple of days relaxing. There were a lot of foreigners enjoying the place and we had begun to notice a different kind of tourist, certainly from Bolivia. They were older, richer and many had come to see the Colca Canyon which is where we were heading the following day. In the evening we went to a little Mexican restaurant and treated ourselves to a couple of shots of tequila before returning to the hostel a little tipsy.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 17:56 Archived in Peru Tagged round_the_world

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