From Trujillo, we took the happy bus (post below) to Lima. Upon arriving in Lima, we decided the large city did not have much to offer us (except Starbucks on every block), so we caught another bus directly to Arequipa, Peru. Arequipa is a cultural center and also serves as a jumping off spot for the Colca Canyon, the Grand Canyon’s cousin with a depth of 3191 meters.

Arequipa offers much in the way of museums and interesting sites. It’s home to the ice princess, sacrificed more than 500 years ago by the Incas and preserved in ice until she was discovered in 1995. Arequipa also houses a few convents, one of which remained hidden in secrecy behind mammoth walls until its doors opened in 1970. The Monasterio de Santa Catalina was founded in 1579 by wealthy widow. Only daughters from wealthy families lived in the monastery as the families had to pay a hefty dowry to be admitted. The first year of servitude families paid 100 gold coins for their daughters, followed by 1000 gold coins the following year if the daughters chose to stay. They lived their lives by strictly following three guidelines: silence for yourself, prayer for God, and work for the community. The nuns followed strict rules of silence and were only allowed to speak to their teacher and not to each other. They were never allowed to leave the premises, and could only speak to their families through a gated wall. Today, nuns still live on the grounds. The oldest is 94, and the youngest is 18. They are allowed more freedoms than their predecessors in that they can leave the grounds for specific reasons and can speak to each other.

We found the monastery quite interesting. It’s a city within itself with small little avenues leading to tranquil courtyards. Like Trujillo, the buildings brightly contrast each other and around each corner there is another burst of color. They had a unique laundry system where a single stream of water could be diverted to different washing basins. They also used a carved out porous rock for filtering water; it seemed like a pretty good system but only one drop succeeded in making it through the rock every minute. We wondered what they did when they were really thirsty. As always, our recent photos can be viewed on Chris’ and Jodi’s flickr pages.

One Response to “Monasterio de Santa Catalina”

  1. Mom and Dad says:

    Don’t think any of our daughters would have stayed in the convent. The vow of silence would not have worked for them.