THE WHITE MILL, molino blanco
Within this numerous presence of mills in Arequipa, motivated by the relative abundance of corn and wheat, we have to consider, in a special way, the White Mill, due to the particular tourist interest it represents.
Its origin dates back to the seventeenth century, referred to the peak of wheat production in Arequipa, although at that time it was known as Molino Ripacha, a name that comes from an old curaca of the place and that remains in the name of one of the alleys that characterize the traditional neighborhood of San Lázaro that houses, in one of its confines, the mill.
From Ripacha, it came to be called Molino Santa Catalina, because it became the property of the nuns of that convent, who did not directly work on it, but as used to be the custom in the case of clergy goods, they gave it in rent to third parties, obtaining the corresponding incomes.
That was the situation of the mill until 1940, when new technologies for grinding were introduced, more economical and efficient, which put an end to the activity of most of the hydraulic mills and grinding stones that they had enjoyed, until then, of a long hegemony.
Already in the seventh decade of the twentieth century, the nuns of Santa Catalina de Siena, urged to have the resources to enable their new residence, as their old convent was projected as a place for tourist visits, decided to sell their mill, presenting themselves as interested Dr. José García Calderón, who, once the property was acquired, began the quixotic task of practically rebuilding it since its state of conservation was really bad, while at the same time he had to carry out arduous procedures to achieve its legal sanitation, due to the presence of some precarious tenants on the property who had to be evicted.
Having achieved all this, and already in the eighth decade of the same century, the owner decided to turn his property into a first-class accommodation, for which he counted on the competition of famous architect Raúl Morey Menacho, with whom after long sessions they achieved a consensus project it would allow a balanced amalgamation of the historical character of the monument with the functional purposes that it had to fulfill as a hotel facility.
Unfortunately, for various reasons that have to do with the bad state policy towards the tourism sector of those years, it was not possible for the activity of the establishment to prosper on a regular basis, but even with this, the famous mill has welcomed some distinguished guests in its rooms, there were even some celebrities such as the singer Julio Iglesias, who, encouraged by the pleasantness of its facilities, decided to extend his stay in the city, or that other illustrious guest who was the notable Arequipa, former president of the republic and the Court of International Justice of The Hague, who dedicated a beautiful poem to the mill, which we reproduce below:
“This is not a windmill that the medieval world planted in the lands of La Mancha as an immortal testimony to the exploits of a Quixote who, punishing felonies, broke spears against evil in the face of the crisp blades of feudal obscurantism.
This is not a windmill: it is an ashlar mill where the old owners knead their loaves of bread with the generous ears of their white wheat.
This was not a windmill: it was just a rural mill that had, perhaps, in flesh and blood, a peculiar miller: perhaps a poor gentleman, half lord, half gañán who with the newly dawned sun would come to work with wheat fields in the pupils and with his pride in the backpack.
But this rustic stone-foam volcano mill with peasant ancestry and natural dominion, also had its Don Quixote in the most recent history of that Villa de Arequipa, rebellious, free and monastic that today is dressed up with the finery of its traditional ancestor to show off the stale garb from two centuries ago.
An idealistic and loving gentleman from his city turned the old mill factory into a beautiful plot of land and by restoring its high vaults or the ashlar wall he gave them back the patina of time and his air of genuine old age and put in them a note of jovial joy. freeing the walls from the vulgar stucco
This is how, in the old property of Callejón “Ripacha”, it fulfills today in the noble Villa a double social mission: to lodge the pilgrim in a friendly hostel and to give charm to those who want to enjoy its beauties. How the Quixotes are needed in this unequal world to sow dreams and good work in the mills …! This is not a windmill: it is a real Mill with millstones – granite stone – and its waters of spring and its rumors and its flour and its hot smell of bread.
It is a mill that grinds – as Don Quixote already did – many crumbs of illusions, golden as bread”.
A CURIOUS DATA:
The name of Molino Blanco arose from a joke between the owner and two of his friends, one of them told him about the famous Parisian Moulin Ruuge, and suggested that his could then be the “White Mill”, unexpectedly, Dr. García Calderón He took it seriously and did so, he called his establishment, Molino Blanco, which has also been his home.