After taking the only right decision to turn around and go back to Chile to ship Humphrey back home, we were looking forward to those places and things that we would not have seen had we carried on northwards. First of all this includes Arequipa, the second-largest city in Peru. A wonderful city, founded in 1540 with many characteristics clearly going back to the Spanish colonial days.
We arrived in time for Maundy Thursday and everybody was preparing for the evening festivities. We saw the first harbingers during the morning hours in the city center. We got the impression that they were reserving their space on the road where they would later put their cookers, tables and seats. During the early afternoon everything was set up and then, shortly before sunset, the cookers were switched on and the crowds started filling the streets. Obviously the party only started after people had visited one of the countless churches in town.
The most impressive thing in Arequipa is the Santa Catalina monastery. Built during the 16th century, it is located right in the city center. It’s like a city within the city, fenced with high walls. Already several centuries ago the monastery set up a great business model: At the time when it was common for the second born daughter or son to give their life to the church, the monastery focused on the very wealthy families. The “membership” cost a fortune in those times. The families not only had to pay to have their daugther admitted, additionally, they had to provide their daughter with numerous valuable things to take on her journey. That is why we can admire loads of precious art and objects in the monastery nowadays. As now only 20% of the monastery is used by the nuns, the remaining part can be visited, obviously paying a significant entrance fee. It is fully worth it though. Every courtyard, every passage presents itself in its own colours. The courtyards are ornate and lovingly designed, and you can enter all the rooms, bathrooms and kitchens. You can literally feel what an oasis this place must have been back in the days.
The monastery is a very special place and you should make sure that you go and see it if you pass through the area. But we did not only enjoy the monastery in Arequipa. Peruvian haute cuisine has made its way from Lima to Arequipa, so we were having some of the finest food. The city also has proper coffee shops offering a good selection of beans. And finally, we also again met some people who smiled.
A couple of hundred kilometers further, we crossed the border between Peru and Chile. As before, we did not have any issues at the border, officials only skimmed the interior of the vehicle as the navigator once again charmed her way through.
As soon as we were back in Chile with Humphrey, we somehow felt relieved. We immediately liked the landscape better. Not to mention the much better roads and the lack of other people. Maybe the Chileans felt the same way, back then when they were in the midst of one these wars. And that is why they, possibly on their way back home, drew the border right there. Never mind. We just had this sense of freedom back, driving with Humphrey through remote and beautiful deserts where art is just put in the middle of nowhere and camping in the wild.
Once again, we drove through the beautiful Parque Nacional Pan de Azucar where the evening sun just magically lights up the rocks making the drive through the park an amazing experience. We spent the night at the beach again, at the very same spot where we had camped on our way northwards. We were at peace with the world.
A couple of days later we put Humphrey in a container. It took us most of a day. I am not going to tell you about the bureaucracy and the ignorance we experienced. All that matters is that Humphrey arrived in Hamburg safe and sound, so we are not going to complain.
As we had spent less time in South America than we had originally intended, we had the opportunity to travel back home making several stops. So we landed up in the Caribbean, in Grenada, where our friend Tom picked us up. Tom decided a while back to shift his main place of residence to a sailing boat and moved this sailing boat to the Caribbean. That came in handy for us.
So we sailed from one island to the next, sometimes with a pretty smacking breeze. For the first time on the entire trip we both actually really relaxed. May be because we were not responsible anymore but rather Tom, because we did not need to plan anything anymore but rather could just let ourselves drift in the very relaxed Caribbean surroundings.
All of this suited our state of mind: delicious fresh food, no stress and hectic at all, obviously very turquoise water, amazing beaches and a lot of R&R. Apart from a pretty rough overnight sail to St. Lucia, there was not much excitement and we were pretty grateful for it. And we were very grateful to Tom that he put us up on his boat for nearly two weeks.
After all this we went back to the normal insanity of life. And we were looking forward to it. One week in New York. Noise, smells, people, commerce and most of all an abundance of nearly everything – and we had not missed it in the last couple of months.
After five months on the road we arrived back home. What we need to tell you about is what conclusions we have drawn, give you some numbers on our trip, show you our route on a map and obviously tell you a bit about what all of this has done to or with us, if at all. We’ll keep that for our next little report. This one already has covered plenty of countries and cities.