Quakes Killing a Cathedral

Thankfully there were no earthquakes today [that were big and in Arequipa] because we went to Basilica Catedral de Arequipa. It’s famous for having the second floor of one of its two bell towers fall in the 2001 earthquake and cause a hole to be developed in the cathedral’s roof.

Basilica Catedral de Arequipa has been through more than its share of earthquakes. In January, 1583, an earthquake completely destroyed the sillar building. (Sillar is a type of white volcanic rock. It’s like pumice, but denser.) This was forty-three years after the location of the cathedral was decided. In 1590, plans for a second cathedral took shape, but in 1600 the eruption of the Huaynaputina stratovolcano destroyed part of the new brick building. Four years later, an earthquake demolished the remaining structure.

In 1621, assignments were made for the construction of a new cathedral. This was a mere twelve years after the idea had been suggested.

Seven years later, the man assigned to the project—Andrés de Espinoza—died. However, in 1656, the 180-foot-long building was finished. It survived the earthquakes of 1666, 1668, 1687, and 1784 with minor damage.

In 1844, a fire broke out in the summer and destroyed many of the paintings, sculptures, and furniture. Reconstruction was started two weeks later.

Improvements were made to the cathedral between 1845 and 1868, which brought an earthquake that obliterated the two towers and façade arcs. Nothing major happened in the 20th century, and all was peaceful until 2001.

On August 15, 2002, exactly 462 years after the cathedral’s location was established, the finishing touches were put on the restored towers.


We walked on the roof and up to the towers. Ethan and I tried to ring the bells, but we weren’t willing to do it together, and our guide told us that it takes two people to be able to hit the 500-pound clapper against the 5-ton bell.


Got Blue?

We went to the Helderberg church today and saw several people that Dad knew back when he worked there. Since tomorrow is graduation (it’s usually towards the end of October when the high schoolers can help out, but the new head changed everything), the church was packed. First four rows were for the graduands. Or, as the sign said, First four rows is reserved for graduands. Dad said that the service was a nice mix—familiar order but definitely African.

After church and meeting Dad’s old (literally) acquaintances, we took doxy (our malaria medicine) and headed to a Thai restaurant for lunch. Alas, Thai food in South Africa is not the same as Thai food in Thailand. The green curry didn’t have the little (or medium, either) eggplants in it that we’d grown accustomed to in Thailand, and the restaurant boasted a “masala curry.” In case you didn’t know, masala is a type of delicious desert tea in India. (It may also be a Thai curry, but it’s curiously named.)

We drove back to Cape Town from Somerset West and, after Dad had taken a nap, we went for a walk. I was wearing my blue shorts, blue button-up shirt, blue flip-flops, and I still have blue nail polish. And my eyes are blue.