A certain melancholy feeling sets in after leaving an enchanting place like Machu Picchu, and you start to question if it should have been the last thing you did on your trip, as they often say, leave the best for last. Travel heals wounds and arriving in gorgeous and colonial Arequipa with the excitement of the days to come, I quickly forgot that the main bucket list item on my list was completed. Arequipa is definitely one of the places to visit in Peru.
Plaza near Wild Rover Hostel, Arequipa, Peru
We arrived in the wee hours of the morning as the sun was starting to glow and having stayed in the Wild Rover Hostel in Cusco, we had no doubt that if they had availability, that's where we would check in here in Arequipa. Sleepy eyed but excited we cruised through the town of Arequipa as it grew more and more dense towards the city center, rumbling across the bumpy, cobble-stone roads we pulled up outside a massive door you would expect to house the entrance to a castle. Being greeted as we walked in, we were happy to find out they had rooms, but no check in until 11am. No problem, we would find some breakfast, a cup of good Peruvian coffee and explore the surrounding areas.
Che Guevara having a cigar and some "mate"
Just around the corner from the Wild Rover Hostel, after being startled by a Che Guevara figure sitting in a window, we passed upon a gorgeous plaza and ate breakfast on the second story a building that looked like the outer columns of the Colosseum. At that moment, I felt very comfortable here in Arequipa and could reflect on the days past and the days to come very contently. We paid up, returned to the Wild Rover Hostel and checked into our room. A very, very well equipped and big hostel that flows from outside walkways into rooms, patios, the pub, pool and bars, we were happy with our decision and settle in to meet some people. Sitting in the pub and filling our bellies with some home style pub food, we got talking to some of the travelling workers who work at the hostel for free board, and they told us about a Go-Kart track here in Arequipa. Needless to say being a Formula 1 fan and Olli being from Finland we both were instantly keen to go! Everyone gathered outside and flagged down some taxi's, agreed upon a price and set off. Arriving on the outskirts of town with a nice view back towards the city of Arequipa in the distance, we paid up for a couple races and strapped into the karts. You purchase the amount of time you want, and go about 4 karts at a time, but having not taken a rip in some karts in a while, we were smiling and laughing like little kids. Decent karts and a well designed track, Olli and I jostled for position with Olli having to take 2nd spot on the podium while I popped the champagne!
One of the fun things to do in Arequipa
We decided to do a few more races, each switching karts in case they were different speeds, but the positions remained the same. The next day after a morning workout at a well equipped gym across the river, and doing some more exploring around the town, we decided that afternoon, again, to go back to the karts as some new arrivals had become jealous of our stories from the day before! We had debated between some of the things to do in Arequipa, one being the jeep trek up the volcano, but having just come from Machu Picchu, we decided for some thrills instead of venturing up another mountain.
Cool architecture in Arequipa, Peru
Arequipa has a very unique feel to it and some incredible architecture and buildings to feast your eyes upon. We visited a great market to have some traditional Peruvian food and passed through the stands and displays of unique Peruvian jewelry and clothing. Purchasing a couple things for friends a family back home, we cruised back to the hostel and had our last dinner before Olli would be heading back to Finland the following day and I would be heading back up to Colombia the day after that.
Even though my trip was not offer, part of it was coming to an end. From simply splitting a taxi to the bus station in Medellin, I had connected with a person from the other side of the world and grew a friendship that would never have happened if it were not for travel and open minds. To this day, I keep in contact with Ollie Antii Sekkari Hekkala and I am proud to announce he is a father to an incredibly beautiful daughter. Congrats Bronaldo. Nascar.