This morning, despite the tough last 3 days, I woke up really early!
The plan today was to visit the famous Santa Catalina convent then head off to Puno in the afternoon. Its funny how the best laid plans sometimes don´t work out huh?!
It started well, I went along to the convent with another guy from the hostel and it was really interesting.
It was founded in 1580 and was a place where only the very rich families in the area sent their 2nd daughters to become nuns at around the age of 12.
As they were from very rich families their living areas were like nothing you could imagine really, they had large almost apartments with a sleeping area, a kitchen, a bathroom as well as an area for entertaining other nuns. Also as they were coming from very rich families they also bought along their maids! Some of them apparently had 3 or 4 maids to care for them. The only draw back was there were not allowed to go out of the convent ever again but as our guide informed us, back then there wasn´t really too much to go out of the convent for, so they were more than happy being where they were and of course they bought great pride to their families by being a nun there.
One of the nuns living area.
At its peak 450 nuns lived, worked and prayed with in the walls of the convent.
The most famous member was Sor Ana de los Angeles who was reputedly blessed with miraculous visions!
Reportedly the nuns lived it up within the convent in the style they had become accustomed to before they entered. After about 3 centuries these goings on reached the Pope who sent a very strict Dominican nun to sort the situation out and what followed was the returning of the dowries to the families as well as the releasing of the maids, in addition to adopting a more group like living situation, eating, cooking and sleeping in one area.
This is the large communial washing area the nuns used after 1871 (on its side, sorry!!)
In 1970 the convent was opened to the public but there is still no contact with the nuns and just 3 dozen continue to live a cloistered life there.
After the very interesting visit at the convent I headed for the Plaza to decide on my next move.
Unfortunately, or fortunately perhaps, the Plaza is beautiful and it was so warm (I got burnt!) so I really had no great desire to move on plus I kept hearing reports that Puno really wasn´t worth the visit, let alone for the 4 days that I was planing.
Instead I headed off to the bus terminal to book a ticket for the next morning, then after a quick visit to the Cathedral and the Iglesia de la Compania nearby I met up with a few others back at the hostel and went out for dinner and a couple of drinks.