I started noticing an interesting trend in Arequipa's hotel industry.
Why is there a strip of hotels hidden only a block away from Dolores street, where most of Arequipa's salsa clubs are? Why are there various hostels all the way up here in Miraflores, a primarily residential neighborhood? Why do so many of these places look so shady?
I mentioned my observations to Sergio, and he explained to me about "los mataderos"--literal translation="slaughterhouse."
The sign says hotel or hostal (hostel), but just by looking, any Peruvian can tell the difference between a real hotel and a matadero--one frequented by young, local couples.
In Peru, it's normal to live with your parents through college and until you get married. Even then, you and your husband or wife might still find yourselves living in a part of your parent's house.
But even though at 19, 20, 26, you still live with your parents, those hormones don't just control themselves. So where do you take your girlfriend for a romantic evening? You take her to a matadero. You can even rent these rooms by the hour.
Sergio and his brothers mock these places a bit because they are a bit unkept. But they seem to be very popular, as indicated by the booming "hotel" business in Peru.
In most Peruvian cities, there are at least a few decent hotels, hostels and hospedajes (communal homestays) to choose from. But you can always be sure you'll find a plethora of mataderos at all prices and locations.
The most concentrated areas of mataderos are definitely near the main bar and club areas, where I imagine these rendezvous are less romantic and more like one-night stands.
It would be interesting to do a mini-survey: how many Peruvians were conceived in a matadero?
Come to think of it, how many Americans were conceived in the back of a car? I bet we'd come up with similar results.