Our day began ‘bright’ and early at 5 AM when we said goodbye to our friends and health care providers. It was very difficult to say goodbye after such a great time together. Nevertheless, we embarked on a voyage to the city of Arequipa and were warmly welcomed by Bob Geringer, a pediatric hospitalist who also works in Arequipa with the organization Health Bridges International.
After breakfast and mingling with Bob about the city of Arequipa, we went on a tour of Alto Cayma, the outskirts of Arequipa. We learned that the city of Arequipa has continually developed outwards from the city center up the surrounding mountainsides. On our tour we learned a lot about the water sources for these new communities; communities fund large cisterns to be filled daily by water trucks. Each family gets a stipend for how much water they have access to each day. Every few blocks there is a water spigot for families to fill up their water buckets and carry back to their homes. This was much different than any other living conditions we had been exposed to in Peru and was a reality check to the luxury of running clean water that we have in our homes.
Later in the afternoon we learned more about Arequipa from Richard, a South American historian. We discussed major political issues and religious practices, such as former military dictatorships and the separation of church and state. We also covered topics of food and geography. We learned about ongoing conflicts about the drink ‘pisco,’ and whether it originated in Peru or Chile.
Today was an educational and fascinating introduction to the history and culture of Arequipa.
Until next time!
Meaghan and Zach