A short flight and a taxi ride, I’m on the rooftop at my hostel in Arequipa. Some guests are amazed I made it into the city, others queried if I had rocks thrown at me in the taxi (as some other travellers had experienced). Jorge, a staff member at the hostel offers me a free shot for breakfast (wouldn’t be the first time he offered me a shot today). Music plays, the lyrics of a song make reference to going somewhere. Francois (aka Frank, a French Canadian who’d been stuck in Arequipa for a few days due to the strikes and road closures) yells out, “we’re not going anywhere! We’re trapped”.
Wanting action and a pharmacy, I took to the streets… what I found was a nicely enough constructed city, with not a lot to do. Arequipa has a high police presence rn, officers decked out in riot gear, some holding shields, others gas masks. These mining protests and strikes aren’t all civil.
My friend Woody from the Salkantay trek messages to meet for lunch and shopping. He and his cousin Kyle are in Arequipa. The restaurant couldn’t possibly be further from where I am, but it serves a decent mojito, so Woody is forgiven. Somehow I end up with a new hat and a worsened cough. Black lung situation at 150%… feel sorry for whomever I’m sharing a room with.
At the dorm, I’m greeted by a pair of blue eyes and a giant smile. Roommate number 1 introduces himself as Rick. A pretty, polite, Dutch guy travelling Peru for a couple of weeks with a friend. Roommate number 2 (the friend), Rudy enters. Another Dutch blue eyed, blonde situation with a side of sass and a penance for cigarettes. We chat about where we’ve been, where we’re going, and our plans in Arequipa… tbh the only reason to be in Arequipa is to do Colca Canyon and we’re all here to do it. My plan had to been to go Colca the next day… happy hour and shit talking with the other hostel guests takes priority… I figure another day resting will be in my best interests and I’ll take the boys up on their offer to go together to Colca in the next 2 days.
Frank is back. He pins me as British.. The boys convince him I’m Dutch. When he learns I’m from Queensland… he’s sceptical, due to a bad experience with another Queensland girl 4 years ago, on a turtle camp… Frank is a funny mother fkr.
Feeling like death, I shower early and head up to the rooftop with my phone and sketch book. Rick and Rudy rise to the rooftop. They query what the book is for. I tell them, “I like to scribble when I’m bored”.
Frank is still trying to get out of Arequipa. The boys are talking about the cost of flights to leave being €50 and I mentioned the rocks being thrown at cars. Getting out of Arequipa would cost 2 stones and 50 euros. We agree that is a great name for a band… Rick even plays guitar… Later Frank interjects with a comment about the birds printed on Rudy’s shorts, describing them as ‘jittery doves’. Another potential band name… Everyone leaves the table, going about their morning rituals and I commence scribbling. About 20 minutes later, Rudy joins me, lighting a cigarette. Opening a small black book, he takes the lid off a pen and begins to draw a cartoon Alpaca/ Llama… it’s our album cover. Turns out Rudy is a talented artist (and history teacher).
The Dutchies and I explore the city, feeding alpacas, expressing concern about baby alpaca prostitution, buying jumpers, juices, hats and forging our bromance… (yes I bought another hat.. a hat a day, dwindles the bank account away 🙄).
The second sunset from the hostel rooftop is pretty spectacular. Drinks are kept to a minimum tonight, as we have to leave for Colca Canyon at 2:30am tomorrow morning (in case of road closures from strikes).
Alarms were set, day bags packed, cough syrup and a farmacia worth of tablets on standby… Hats n zzzz’s. The essentials.