Amidst the action-packed fortnight that Uju and I spent traveling through South Peru, we had a few hours of quiet contemplation in Arequipa, exploring the Monasterio de Santa Catalina. This 16th-century convent is an imposing citadel within its high walls, and we spent a chunk of the afternoon wandering through the various rooms and spaces, corridors and lanes, soaking in the simple forms and rich colours.
The monastery was founded by Maria de Guzman, a rich widow. As with most historic structures, this one has a ‘coloured’ past, stories of wealth, dowries paid by the nuns’ families, the kind that set me thinking about the real power of religion, and the motivations of people to live their lives in certain ways.
From a purely visual viewpoint, the structure is enthralling and hypnotic.
Uju had her heart set on walking into every room and photographing every wood-fired oven, niche and window pane, and I had the unenviable task of pulling her forward.
But the colours. Oh. The colours. We both meditated on the colours.
Running up to the roof to feast on the sunset and a view of El Misti was a nice bonus.