This is a beautiful Colonial city surrounded by volcanoes of which one is still active and smoking.
We arrive in the morning and grab a taxi with pre-arranged prices per sector to our hostel. It turns out our hostel is just down from the Plaza de Armes and walking distance to most places.
The owner lets us know which room Olga is in, as she has already told him we would be arriving. Olga shows us around quickly and we find a place to eat breakfast. Olga had made plans for us to see the cloisters this morning which was perfect timing.
Sometimes finding a substantial breakfast for us can be daunting. South Americans have a coffee and a bun or serve continental or american breakfasts. That is not what we eat. We always find a place to serve us a meal, sometimes it just takes a little more searching.
The Cloisters was the first for Peru and has quite the history. We took a tour first then went around on our own afterwards.
Initially, one daughter was always given to the church with a dowry to become a nun, as young as 8 years. They would spend 4 years studying and then they were given the choice to take the vows or not. It was never refused though as it would mean dishonour to the family. For Spanish Catholic families it was a great honour to have a child with the church.
After a couple of natural disasters, the cloisters could not afford to rebuild anymore and asked the families for help.
Since the families had already given a “dowry” to the church when their girls were first taken in, the families would only build homes for their own daughters. Depending on the wealth of the family determined how fancy the home.
Communal living changed to separate living quarters with kitchens and servants within the compound.
After many years the church changed the rules removing the “dowry” and going back to communal living. This meant that the cloisters had to find ways to earn money too.
Because of another natural disaster – earthquake – and the age of the original buildings, it was recommended by the engineers (1970’s) to build anew and open the old buildings that were still safe to the public for the nuns to earn their own money.
This is what we see today and it is beautiful and not anything you imagined about how nuns lived.