Moquegua, Peru

Mar. 18, 2023

Moquegua, Peru: population: about 90,000. When the Spanish founded the city they gave it the name "Villa de Santa Catalina de Guadalcázar del Valle de Moquegua." The date of its founding is questionable. First, though, the pronunciation of its name is 'moh - kay - wah'.

Moquegua and the valley it sits in has been inhabited for a very long time. There were several successive cultures over thousands of years before the Incas conquered the Wari people. Archeologists have found a site they date back to 3500BC that includes habitations and workshops. Over the centuries various groups have inhabited the valley and the nearby mountains and hills. The Wari developed terraced farms along the hillsides. Then along came the Incas in the 15th century. They conquered the Wari and the other groups of indigenous peoples. Then a century later the Spanish arrived and conquered the Incas. As for the founding date of Moquegua, that is uncertain. According to traditions passed down it was in November 1541. The city name was changed to Moquegua in 1821.

Moquegua has a main plaza - Plaza de Armas (which is what all of the main plazas in the cities and towns in Peru are called). This plaza was designed in the 1800s by Gustave Eiffel. If that name sounds familiar it is because he also designed the Eiffel Tower. There are two museums on two sides of the plaza as well as restaurants and other shops. The historic center of Moquegua has many houses and buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. This area has experienced many disastrous earthquakes - 1600, 1604, 1630, 1655, 1687, 1713, 1784, and more) so most of the original buildings were lost and rebuilt. There is much more here to explore but I didn't spend the time here to do that, it was only a stop-over on my way south.

The city is supported by mining (copper, silver, gold, and other minerals), agriculture (oregano, avocado, grapes, and more), pisco liquor, and wine. Moquegua is called the copper capital of Peru. And, outside of Lima, Moquegua has one of the highest GDP in Peru, at about 30,000 US dollars per capita.

Moquegua has a desert climate. The average daytime high of 22° C (72° F), and the night average low of 15° C (58° F). The city's elevation is 1410 meters (4630 feet) and averages 11 mm (.45 inch) of rain per year.

So, my impressions: Moquegua is a very interesting city with a lot of history still to be seen. If you get the chance to visit this town you should do so and spend at least two or three days here. The town is very clean, with very little litter anywhere in the streets. I think this is the cleanest town I have visited anywhere in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. The climate is certainly pleasant enough, as well. But, as I continue down the coast I realize that no matter how much I like these towns (Moquegua, Ica, Nazca) they just don't speak to me, not like Moyobamba and Tingo Maria on the other side of the mountains in the Selva region. Maybe it's because this part of Peru is too brown, with too much desert. But, I will continue south to Tacna and then into Chile and see what there is to see.

This is my goal: 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 24 towns/cities. At least 1 more to go.

Next up: Tacna, Peru.