Weekend explorations also led us to the neighboring district of Cayma, which we had yet to wander around. After ten minutes or so, we found ourselves in the main square of Cayma, bordered by this lovely little church originally built in 1718. Many of the surrounding buildings date back to 1786. Being from the west coast, I’m still not used to standing in buildings older than my country.
The Plaza de Cayma was empty but for us, which is quite a change from the Plaza de Yanahuara. However, there were still the two competing queso helado carts with girls in traditional dress. Kyle, in his love of all things cheese, gave the cheese ice cream a try the first time we came to Arequipa. It tastes a bit like tart frozen yogurt, but still pretty sweet. However, it made him really, really sick for three days afterwards. So a tip to anyone heading to Arequipa: if you want to try queso helado, try it at a restaurant and not on the street.
From the Plaza de Cayma, we walked east back towards the Río Chili and the Mirador de Carmen Alto, a well-known viewpoint in Cayma. We came out into huge farming fields surrounded by high-end apartment complexes and houses, and found this vacant playground right next to a busy street. And yes, we did play on the see-saw since Kyle said they are disappearing from the States.
We continued on through Cayma, and eventually noticed the streets were covered in what we thought was horse poop. Kyle couldn’t figure out why anyone would ride horses on the sidewalks, and then I pointed out the solution to the mystery which was crossing the street in front of us. Farmers were leading their cows through a really upscale neighborhood, and across the street into the agricultural fields. I can’t say I see much of that back home.
We finally got to the Mirador de Carmen Alto, located in Cayma on the west bank of the Río Chili, and it was worth the walk! The views of the ancient pre-Incan terraces that are still in use today, as well as the canyons and volcanoes surrounding Arequipa are just incredible. However, you do have to enjoy the views surrounded by various tour groups hopping on and off buses and speaking all different languages. Kyle and I like to hang next to the Spanish tours and get all the same information as the paying tourists without anyone realizing we understand what is being said.