Rough start today.
Rolled in to Arequipa at 8am after a weird sleeping bus ride, still dazed and groggy. Managed to find a cab to the hostel I'd decided to visit. Took a shower at La Reyna Hostel, and left my stuff there in order to find food.
Couldn't find food, at least food I was familiar with. Couldn't get any guide service to just drop me off at the El Misti trailhead. Kept saying it was dangerous and I would fall off a cliff. It was incredibly discouraging. Found an Internet cafe with kids playing video games. It was nice to say hi to Rick and Elle. Got super strong coffee down the street. Arequipa is called the white city because of the white stone used for most of the buildings. It's beautiful, way more pretty than Lima. The streets are cobble which makes the cars clap rather than zoom down the street.
Still no clue what I was going to do. Went back to La Reyna and made friends with the 18 yr old innkeeper. The owner came in, I was able to explain my situation. She called her brother, Jack, who promptly came in and said "it's easy, I'll take you."
Holy crap what a difference that made. I'm so glad I kept asking. The whole afternoon I then spent wandering the markets and streets with way less stress. I'm stoked, and everything is bonito. I can do this, even if I don't summit.
Last night on the bus I go up to use the bathroom and saw my reflection for the first time since leaving the US. I stood there for a while and tried to take in the fact that it was me. Messy Aleya is kind of cool.
Overall today gets a huge "fuck yeah!" rating on the awesomeness scale.
Note to self: a day wandering around isn't a day wasted. Super useful actually. I think I've walked 10 miles at least, but I've seen everything. Twice.