A Visit to Arequipa and Dealing With Language Barriers

by Brian Carroll on November 4, 2012

Post image for A Visit to Arequipa and Dealing With Language Barriers After we bid adieu to our English friends, James and I made our way toward our last city in Peru, Arequipa. Unlike our destinations to date where we stayed for the most part in hostels, our visit to Arequipa would be a bit different and immersive. Through family and friend contacts (thanks Richard and Joan!), it so happened that we were able to arrange a stay with a local family in Arequipa (The Pareja's: Alejandro, Ruth and their son Josue). Up until that point, our communication with them directly had been limited – basically I had sent a couple of emails in poor spanish about our pending arrival, along with a pic of James and myself so the family would be able to spot us gringos when we arrived in the bus terminal...and thankfully that worked. We were greeted by Alejandro, who was nice enough to pick us up and drive us to their home, 10 minutes outside of the city center of Arequipa. Quite quickly, James and I knew that our Spanish skills would be put to the test as the family's knowledge of English was limited. While I had taken 7 years of Spanish between high school and college and spent a summer living in Barcelona, to be honest, it had been 8 or so years since I'd used it, so speaking and more importantly, being able to understand what others were saying would be a challenge. In fact, the focus required to continually speak and listen in another language, while enjoyable, was quite mentally taxing at the same time for both James and myself. Anyways, Alejandro & Ruth were gracious hosts to both of us, making us excellent local food and directing us to places to check out in the city center, including a really cool monastery that really was like a city within the city (few pics below). They were great hosts and we really enjoyed speaking with them, even if James and I were both speaking at a 2nd grade level. They also informed us of the cognizance we needed to have when catching taxis back to their place from downtown. We were told that there were only 2 taxi companies to trust when grabbing a cab and even so, some other taxis sometimes impersonated these reliable companies. This was important as some taxi drivers will pick you up and drive you to a place where their friends are to essentially rob you.  It was like playing deal or no deal, but with cabbies instead of briefcases full of money. While we had some trepidation, thankfully every taxi we took worked out. My stay in Arequipa would be short, 36 hours, as I had to catch a plane to my next stop Buenos Aires, Argentina, where James would meet me a day later for a week exploring the city.

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