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A beautifully restored monastery captivates the imagination

Arequipa was a wonderful surprise. A good write-up in the guidebooks is no indication that we may like a place, but Arequipa, framed by volcanoes captivated us. This is also where you can see Juanita, the chilling but very interesting reminder of the Inca practices of child sacrifice to appease the Gods during hard times.

The monastery of Santa Catalina is a beautifully restored old monastery of the Dominican order from the 16th century and iss an interesting portrayal of the lives of the nuns during those times. Specially interesting was the fact that there were two classes of nuns, the “high class” nuns and the “low class” nuns, the former enjoying a mini cottage with kitchen, courtyard and living area furnished with European luxuries. Our guide told us that a lot of these nuns were obese due to overeating, specifically indulging in chocolate. In spite of this luxury, their solitary, confined life was probably less desirable than that of the “low class” nuns, who got to work outside in the gardens and around the monastery.

Santa Catalina monastery

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