Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa, Peru: I’ve been here before.

On not knowing what the hell I'm doing.

“This is Antigua.” That’s all I could think when I entered the main square in Arequipa, Peru. Both were surrounded by walkways of arched columns where touts would constantly hassle you to book a tour, eat at their restaurant, buy some sunglasses. Both were flanked by a giant church. Both centered around a park, and a fountain, where women in traditional garb tried to get you to buy traditional souvenirs, eat some ice cream, or, in Arequipa’s case, take your photo with an alpaca.

Arequipa was bigger than Antigua, but so eerily familiar that I often forgot where exactly I was.

Standing in the main square, my first day in town after traveling from Huacachina, brought me back to last March, when I arrived in Guatemala, scared, unsure of myself, not knowing if I was in the right place. Back to a place where I wandered aimlessly not knowing what to do with myself until I finally said, “Fuck it,” and got a crepe at the crepe place or a bagel at the bagel place because I couldn’t figure out where else to go.

Sometimes I feel like a horrible traveler.

But then I realize something that snaps me out of my funk: it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if I spent 9 days in a place and really only saw a convent. It doesn’t matter if I ate pizza for dinner because I was really craving pizza and my stomach was feeling kind of fucked. It doesn’t matter that I booked everything through my hostel because I didn’t want to shop around for buses or tours. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t go out of my way to find the best adobo in town. Nothing matters. You’re not being a bad traveler or a good one. You’re just being. And doing whatever you need to do at that very moment.

It’s a lesson I forget sometimes as I chastise myself for not going out of my way to do anything. As I go to the Lonely Planet recommended restaurant because no one seems to be in any restaurants so how can I tell what’s good or not. As I make ramen for dinner because I don’t feel like cooking or sitting alone in a restaurant. As I sit in the hostel common room watching a movie.

It doesn’t matter.

I spent nine nights in Arequipa, though I barely left the hostel outside of a morning at the Santa Catalina Monastery and meals.

I had this huge kick of inspiration for retooling my blog and making it more mobile friendly that all I did was hog one of the very few outlets in my hostel and stare back and forth between my laptop and my phone. Sometimes when you’re in the mood for something you just have to go with it.

I did come to Peru, after all, to get shit done.

Photos from Arequipa, Peru:

Arequipa, Peru.

Arequipa, Peru.

Arequipa, Peru.

Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa, Peru.

Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa, Peru.

Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa, Peru.

Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa, Peru.

Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa, Peru.

Arequipa, Peru.

p.s. how many Alpaca sweaters do you think I will own before I leave here?

Arequipa, Peru.

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Jen
    August 7, 2014at5:57 pm

    And your site is a lot more mobile friendly.

  • rebecca
    August 12, 2014at12:41 pm

    You’re exploring in your own way. Thats what its all about 🙂

  • Ali
    August 13, 2014at7:21 pm

    Exactly, you have to do what works for you. There’s no wrong way to travel. And you’re not on vacation, you do have shit to do. It’s completely fine if you decide not to go see certain sights or do certain activities. Andy and I were in Budapest last month, and one day instead of going to the baths, we sat on a bench in a square for hours talking and watching people go by. Awesome day.

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