Llamas and Alpacas

Added 03 Sep 2014

Early Tuesday evening we transferred by private coach to Arequipa city centre. We stopped in San Francisco Plaza and had a peep inside the San Francisco Church, which has a Mestizo style with Mudejar influences. Its Colonial cloisters are part of a complex of the Franciscan order, which is formed by a convent, the smaller temple of the Third Order and the Square of San Francisco.

On one side of the square is a row of buildings, some are apartments, some are shops and one or two are restaurants. We are dining at the Zig-Zag restaurant this evening. The entrance is through a narrow wooden door and down a few steps to a tiled floor dining area. Upstairs is our private dining room and to get there involves using a wrought iron spiral staircase, designed by Gustave Alexandre Eiffel. The party atmosphere is soon apparent. Rather strong Pisco Sour cocktails are served first. Red and white wine follows. The menu is local and tasty. Peruvian salads, Quinoa and Andean cheese soup, alpaca, lake trout, Cuzco sweet-corn pie, Spanish nougat and homemade ice cream. These are just some of the choices. By the time we finish we are well feed and jolly. Somehow we have to negotiate the spiral staircase. Fortunately we all manage it in one piece.

After a leisurely breakfast Wednesday morning we set off on foot for Mundo Alpaca, a well-known local alpaca wool trader and garment producer. We enjoy a guided visit, which starts with identifying the different camelid species present in Peru ... Llama, Guanaco, Vicuña and Alpaca. There are some living examples in a wood-fenced corral. The gate is opened and we are beckoned inside. The llamas seem unperturbed by our company but not interested in taking food from us until some fresh alfalfa arrives. This changes everything and we are lucky to escape unscathed!

Our visit takes us through the process of wool collection, sorting, colouring and weaving. Two ladies demonstrate back weaving technique. We also see some of the old machines used in the factory. The final stop, naturally, is the shop. There is a vast selection of beautiful garments here. At least this is the case when we first arrive. By the time we leave most of the stock has been sold to our guests. Richard and Dawn have offered to take purchases back to the hotel for safe keeping to allow guests to wander into the city centre "hands free". Although very happy to do so, they did not anticipate carrying 22 bags!

Bags are reclaimed later and packed ready for our early start tomorrow. We're off at 5.30am to catch the only flight from Arequipa to Juliaca airport. From here we will head for Puno and Lake Titicaca, our next stop.