Arequipa, Peru

Mar. 16, 2023

Arequipa, Peru: population: about 1,200,000. "The White City." Arequipa sits in a high mountain valley, the Chili Vally, with Andes on two sides and high coastal hills on the other two sides. In the Andes Mtns are three volcanos - The Misti (an active volcano), and Pikchu Pikchu and Chachani which are extinct volcanos. The Chili River runs through the center of the city. The Pacific Ocean is 129 kilometers (80 miles) to the west. The city was founded in August 1540, with the name "Villa Hermosa de Nuestra Señora de la Asunta." But, in 1541 the Spanish monarch Carlos V decreed that it should be renamed, the "City of Arequipa." Arequipa is also called "the White City" because of the construction material used for most of the historical and some newer buildings - sillar. Sillar is a white volcanic stone that is mined outside of the city. Arequipa is also a pedestrian-friendly city and has very good bus and taxi services.

Arequipa is number 2 to Lima in Peru. It is the second largest and second most industrialized city in Peru. Industries include wool/textile production, mining, agriculture, and tourism. The historic center is a "Cultural Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO and covers some 332 hectares (820 acres). Many of the buildings are more than 300 years old and some of the churches and monasteries are more than 400 years old. UNESCO lists more than 5800 properties as historic and about 500 as heritage. Arequipa has at least 14 museums. There are several theories about the origin of the Arequipa, with no real hard evidence for any of them.

Long before the arrival and conquests by the Incas the area of Arequipa had been inhabited by various hunter/gatherer groups. These early groups of people built the first canals for irrigation and farming. Several groups worked together to settle the area and develop an agrarian economy in what is now called Arequipa. Then came the Incas who conquered the indigenous groups. Then came the Spanish who conquered the Incas. There were severe earthquakes in 1868, 1878, and 1913, which greatly damaged the city. In 1908, Arequipa got its first telegraph, 1914 saw the first drinking-water aqueduct, and in 1931 its first highways connected Arequipa to other cities. In 1940 the airport was opened. In June 2001, an 8.4 magnitude earthquake struck Arequipa and caused major damage to or destruction of many historic buildings.

Camaná has a temperate arid climate. The average daytime high of 23° C (74° F), and the night average low of 7° C (45° F). The city's elevation is 2335 meters (7661 feet), and it averages 90 mm (3.5 inches) of rain per year.

So, my impressions: Arequipa is definitely a place to visit, the city's historic center, the monasteries, churches, etc, are incredible. Out in the neighborhoods, one can find even more very old houses. I posted pics of a few, with at least one having the year embedded in stone above the door - 1800, and another on the same street with the year 1895. There are many parks throughout the city and many plazas with sculptures or monuments at the center. It's a beautiful area, this valley, and there are many places outside the city to explore and do tours to. But, because of its size, I will not be considering it as a place to live.

My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, passing through Argentina, visiting Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70, that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people. And, now that I have visited more than 30 towns/cities, I've decided I will probably want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but, getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least, here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.

My goal is to visit the towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the seven towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I am not visiting tourist attractions or archeological sites, etc, those will have to wait for another trip through South America.

At this point in my journey I have six towns on my Top 10 list - Nazca, Ica, Tingo Maria, Moyobamba, Peru, and Catamayo and Puyo, Ecuador. In my travels in Ecuador, I visited 31 towns/cities. At this point in my journey through Peru, I have visited 23 towns/cities, three more to go.

Next up: Moquegua, Peru.