My Life Is Complete – I Got Spat On by an Alpaca

During my stay in Arequipa, I visited an outlet of Incalpaca – a factory with decades of experience producing garments from the wool of llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas.

The interesting part about the outlet is that attached to it is a small zoo if you will, where visitors can see the animals used for their wool. There was one cute vicuna, a small herd of llamas, and one extremely territorial alpaca.

Photo: Graceful Vicuna Occupies Her Enclosure Alone
Photo: Graceful Vicuña Occupies Her Enclosure Alone

Except for the alpaca, all other animals were shy and remained in parts of their encampments the furthest from the people. The alpaca was the only one to be standing fearlessly right by the fence along the visitors’ walkway.

I approached the proud animal snapped a picture of its head, and it proceeded to spit on me. It wasn’t the type of gooey spit you could get from a human, but more like a little dispersed spray of fine droplets, but it was nevertheless very cool.

Photo: Territorial Alpaca Graced Me with the Shower of Her Spit
Photo: Territorial Alpaca Graced Me with the Shower of Her Spit

I have heard of camels spitting, but never have I imagined I’d get the opportunity to be spat on by a camelid. Whereas other visitors to the compound reacted with disgust and ran away from the animal when they got spat on, I got excited and told to myself: “Holy shit! My life is now complete. I got spat on by an alpaca.

I looked at some of the garments sold in the store, but would not be able to bring myself to pay so much money for just that – a piece of a garment.

Photo: Standing by Enclosure with Herd of Llamas
Photo: Standing by Enclosure with Herd of Lamas

Anything made from vicuña wool in particular was super expensive. As in four digits for a scarf expensive. I was told by the apparently commission paid sales woman that vicuña wool is finer than kashmir, and the animals don’t produce a whole lot of it, so it’s always expensive.

But at more than 4,000 Soles (around $1,200 US) for a scarf, there would be no way for me to even entertain this type of a purchase. The sales woman insisted that she would hook me up with an attractive discount, but one way or the other, I never come anywhere near to spending this much money for garments.

Photo: Garmets from Vicuna Wool Are Among the Most Expensive in the World
Photo: Garmets from Vicuña Wool Are Among the Most Expensive in the World

I’m a vagabond in old, worn out clothes anyway. I’m smart with my money and even if I were wealthy enough to easily afford something this expensive, I don’t know what it would take to argue me into buying it. I however don’t doubt the amazing warming and softness properties of vicuña garments.

First Impression of Arequipa

Even though I liked the weather and the mountains surrounding Arequipa, it became clear right away that it’s thus far the most aggressive place of all I’ve visited in Peru, as far as touts are concerned.

Right from the moment I got off the bus, I had dozens of them on my tail, stuffing flyers in my hands, insisting I book a hotel they recommend because all others either don’t exist or are not good for me, trying to get me take the ride downtown with them, or otherwise forcing me to shell out for whatever they said they had to offer.

They were like vultures and the whole bus terminal was inundated with them, so I just smiled and walked steadily out of the terminal and onto the street, where it got a little bit better, but not a whole lot.

The first impression of Arequipa was definitely not the greatest, but somehow in the melee, I managed to pick up a map of the city, so I elected to walk my way toward Plaza de Armas (every Peruvian town/city appears to have the downtown square named Plaza de Armas).

Photo: Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa
Photo: Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa

Minibuses were passing me by, but their markings provided little assistance in determining where they were going. I approached one that got stuck in a jam and asked the woman collecting the fare if the bus passed by Plaza de Armas. She unexcitingly barked back at me that I’m on the wrong street for that, but provided no indication about where I’d need to go to catch the right bus.

Moreover, Arequipa has awful reputation regarding the dangers of taking a taxi, with express kidnappings being alarmingly frequent. It seemed from the map that the terminal was on the outskirts of Arequipa, with Plaza de Armas being quite a bit away, but whereas I’m used to walking a lot with my backpack on, and since Arequipa sees very little precipitation, I merrily hit it.

When I had about 3/4 of the way to Plaza de Armas covered, I saw a hotel to my left that seemed reasonably decent while reasonably remote to possibly offer an attractive price for a room, so I thought – what the heck. It doesn’t hurt to ask. I normally go for hostels and leave hotels out as I prefer good price to more comfort, but the location and the state of the building seemed to suggest the possibility of a good deal.

I ended up staying in Hotel Diplomats and with my room sorted out for the night, I headed out unburdened off my backpack to explore Plaza de Armas and whatever else Arequipa has to offer.

Photo: Two Arequipenas with Two Llamas and Yours Truly
Photo: Two Arequipenas with Two Llamas and Yours Truly