There is no trace of Inca heritage visible from the streets of Arequipa, an
Andean city heavily influenced in its architecture and folklore by the Spanish
conquistadors. The white, snow-covered slopes of the surrounding volcanoes and
mountains turn to brown and then meet the green tree-lined streets of Arequipa.
The city sits like a huge crossroads, an intersection whose streets lead off
toward the mountain deities looming in the distance. Ornamented pillars and
intricately patterned lanterns replace the dusty dirt roads and simple
dwellings of Quilcata at the base of Sara Sara.
The bus pulls up to the curb and comes to a stop outside our hotel. The 24-
hour journey from Sara Sara to Arequipa with Sarita, our 500-year old Inca
mummy, has finally come to an end. The long, hot shower dreamed of for the
last two weeks is now only minutes away. We stumble, sticky and dusty from our
long journey, into our rooms, drop our dry bags and equipment on the floor, and
head straight for the soap. Within an hour the press arrive to take pictures
and do an interview for what will result in a flurry of headlines in local and