Arequipa: A Gringa’s Mirage – Part 2

Hello St. Patrick’s Day!  The sun was shining beautifully and the humidity was low in Arequipa, making it the perfect weather for a morning stroll to explore a new city before engaging in some all too familiar festivities.

European afternoon

Normally it takes me several days to draw any meaningful conclusions after observing myself in a new place, but here in Arequipa I realized quite quickly how much I miss the look, feel and layout of a European city.  Arequipa reminded me so much of the six weeks I spent in Spain.  There were the colonial buildings with the intricate facades, the people socializing next to some monument in the plazas, the luscious parks and the cobblestone streets.  In addition, the city was surrounded by snow covered volcanoes in the distance.  It was quite an interesting site when you take into account the fact that you’re standing next to a palm tree and wearing linen pants.

One of my favorite views!

For lunch, we continued on with our indulgence in food that is not Peruvian, and sat down for some pseudo-French fare after discovering that the German Biergarten was closed during the day.  We passed by on our evening reconnaissance of the city and discovered this little treasure of Bavarian goodness.  There were crêpes and quiche abound, which weren’t as delightful as the previous night’s Mexican dinner, but were still at least up to Dutch standards for French cuisine.  The best part of the meal though was the fresh jugo de maracuyá (passion fruit juice), easily my new favorite juice over papaya.

Plaza de Armas

After lunch and the jaunt through town, it was mid-afternoon and time to return to the hostel to pay homage to my other European friends, the Irish!

Back at the hostel

I have to admit, staying at one of the party hostels, Wild Rover Backpackers, was more exciting than it should have been for me, but after being held captive in my room in Puno by the cold nights and lackluster nightlife options, a good socializing event was in order.  On the bus trip to Arequipa, I think I was actually beaming at the thought of hanging out with other fun-loving backpackers such as myself and feeling once again like I “belonged”.

One of the things I love about the world of backpackers is that it really is a small one.  So far on the trip I’ve already bumped into two fellow travelers that I’ve met in previous stops.  Earlier in the afternoon when we had just returned to join the festivities at the hostel, I noticed a guy who I didn’t recognize waving at me across the bar.  Confused for a second, I looked over and saw his girlfriend who I immediately recognized from the trip to Lake Titicaca.  How fun!  I should note that I have a tendency of becoming more animated than the situation calls for when I unexpectedly run into an old friend or even, in this case, a mere acquaintance.  So I naturally became insta-friends with this British-Lithuanian couple after realizing how cool they must be for coming to the same location as me!

Along with the British-Lithuanian couple, there were some other notable characters too.  There was the token Irish guy who is way too old to be hanging out a party hostel, but given the circumstances and lack of other options, he was perfectly in place.  And Big Phil, whom I was shooting some seriously skeptical eyebrows at when he declared that he was 6’8’’.  I think my rebuttal went something like, “You are NOT 6’8’’! I’ve dated Dutch men and I can tell how tall you are!”  I think I sheepishly backed off when I realized I was judging him while standing on a step.   And my favorite, was Alaska.  I never could remember his name, but he was probably the only person from Alaska on the entire continent so I figured that calling card would suit him just fine as a name.  He was interesting because he was supposedly a fisherman who was traveling during their off-season.  I say supposedly because I know people who lie about their professions and I’ve also lied about my profession just to appear more interesting.  It’s sad but getting back on point, he also had the most amazing Suave shampoo commercial hair you’ve ever seen and he knew it too!  He was dancing around like a crazy person whipping it all over.  The best part, or I should say the most notable part, besides him being the most drunk person at the party, was his ass crack which I think made an appearance in 60% of Stacey’s party photos.

Crazy Lithuanian girl and Alaska with me in the background watching everything unfold

You’re not in Amsterdam anymore

In my previous post, I mentioned that I was pretty excited about cutting loose and partying again, but in retrospect I think I was a little overzealous and ultimately ended up being a little too rambunctious for my own good.  See, I had forgotten that small detail that the last time I drank heavily was probably in Spain before coming back to America, which was a healthy six months ago.  I then made the mistake of thinking I could pick up right where I left off and started in strong that afternoon with some summery vodka drinks (because it’s more refreshing and less filling than beer of course) and quickly caved to offers of free shots (Come on, it’s St. Patrick’s Day!)  This of course left me several sheets to the wind by dinner time, which was a disaster for me, and I had to take a little “Time-out”…at 19:00.

As bad and embarrassing as it might have been taking a time-out from the festivities at 19:00, the silver lining of all of this was first, I used this as a great excuse to take another hot shower and second, my tolerance for booze may have disappeared but the resilience of my spirit and liver still remained perfectly intact.  I prevailed! I drank my water, cleaned myself up and got back in the game by about 20:30.  I decided to stick solely to beer and joined Stacey back downstairs just in time for some high-quality drinking drama.

It seems that there was some trouble in paradise for my British-Lithuanian couple friends.  Before my mind started going blank that afternoon, I recalled seeing the Lithuanian girl making out at the bar with someone other than her boyfriend and I think I took this as a cue to take her out of there and bring her to dinner with us.  During dinner however, she thought it perfectly acceptable to get up and run out after we ordered our food and drinks.  I remember actually witnessing this, but being too preoccupied with my fragile stomach situation, I didn’t really care.  So now, back at the hostel is her lost and confused boyfriend who’s grilling me and Stacey on her whereabouts.  It was terrible, he was actually tearing up.  I couldn’t tell him what I knew, so I tried my best to play the “I was drunk and vomiting for the last hour” card to its maximum potential.  I did lead him over to the computers where I suggested maybe he could contact her on facebook, but then got the hell out of there and hid in the bar for the rest of the night.

The rest of the night went on without incident and we continued to drink and be merry.  It was starting to feel more like a night out in Amsterdam with just silly, laughing, dancing drunkies running about the place.  Stacey went to bed and I headed out to some dance club with some of our other hostel friends and ended up engaging in one of my obligatory “financial” speeches with one of the guys, skipped on the obligatory “self-defense” speech though.  And that was pretty much a wrap for my first big night out in Perú.

I woke up the next morning feeling a bit fragile but still better than I had any business feeling.  The first thing I did was head downstairs to grab a cup of coffee.  I think my hangover finally did set in when I saw Alaska, butt-crack and all, still rocking at the bar.  The exchange went something like this:

L: “What is this? How do you exist? How are you possible? I need some coffee.”

A: “You know what would be great is like a full cup of milk right now!”

L: “Sweet Jesus”

I then sat on a lounge chair by the pool with my sunglasses on while sipping on my coffee and watching him, half in awe and half in disgust, as he downed a glass of milk.  This is why I love hostel life.  You will always find somebody who is more insane than you.

After getting ourselves together, Stacey ventured out on a more cultural and relaxing excursion through Arequipa before sadly bidding adieu to this beautiful city…


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