Having made our way on foot across the river Chilli, and northwest through the district of Yanahuara in Arequipa, we came across a veritable oasis of lush greenery & working terraced agricultural fields near to the mirador Carmen Alta Chilina and on both side of the river valley. Locals were busy harvesting herbs, working the fields & keeping irrigation channels clear. To the north, nothwest & west, through the mist & clouds, the mountains of Chachani, Misti & Picchu Picchu loomed over the city, thankfully with no volcanic eruptions in sight!
We’d taken the overnight bus from Cusco to Arequipa on Sunday night. Ten & a half hours of twisty, sometimes bumpy roads, we’d dozed some but not slept alot, as we marvalled at the ability of our fellow Peruvian passengers to sleep soundly. The baby in front of us, asleep on her mum, managed a good 8hrs straight sleeping. It must be in their genes…and we’d like some of those please! As dawn arrived around 5am we’d been surprised to see snow out of the window, but as the road traversed the mountains at some 5000m thats not really unusual.
Arequipa is Peru’s second city with a population nearing 1million. It is historically a very colonial, and right-wing, city, and the colonial architecture & catholic churches & idolatry dominate it’s centre to this day. Out of the centre and the middle class & gated districts such as Yanahuara, it’s just like other Peruvian cities – ever spreading districts stretch out towards the surrounding hills. Here the housing is poorly & cheaply built, the roads like farmtracks, and the campesinos who’ve come to the urban centres scratch a living or make the long trek into town for some poorly paid service industry work.
So it was a pleasure to chance upon some green land located on what looked like old Inca or even pre-Inca terracing, with its ‘Pachamama Resistira!!‘ mural on a nearby wall. Somehow this land has been saved, not built upon, and for a few of the high Andean peoples here perhaps some of their old ways remain. Here’s a few picks of the terraced fields.