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Published: June 26th 2008
Street ArtJune 24:
We are currently in Cusco, taking a moment to catch our breaths after taking in the colorful Inti Raymi festival earlier.
I'll backtrack to catch everyone up: after unwinding for a couple of days in Trujillo, Ryan and I backpacked to Lima, where I became aware of just how enormous the place really is. The pollution is eye-stinging, the pace of life is frenetic, and the poverty is quite appalling, but there is something very attractive about the heaving metropolis of nearly eight million. The many diverse areas in Lima possess an exciting if sometimes downtrodden energy, giving a cohesiveness to the odd conglomeration of trendy commercial areas, neglected neighborhoods, sleek highrises and historic landmarks. Lingering in the tranquil backwaters of historic Barranco, meandering with the jetset in Miraflores, and shuffling in the walkways of the countless slums, the energies of this city were a shock to the senses. Once more we were greeted by friends and family of Ryan´s, who made sure we had an enjoyable and memorable time. We caught the Peru vs. Uruguay (futbol) match in a crowded bar, drank cervezas, munched on canchitas (Peruvian bar food - crisped corn), and sat in awe as
Snapping up the dunes near Huacachina.
the Uruguay squad wiped the field with Peruvian jerseys. The final score was 6-0 in Uruguay´s favor. Having become accustomed to the poor performance of their team, our friends were hardly crestfallen, and set off down the street in search of something to take the sourness from our stomachs. We dined on anticuchos (cow heart on a skewer) which were delicious, joked for hours, and went our separate ways with full smiles and full bellies.
Caught a bus to Ica the following day, en route to our final destination at the oasis town of Huacachina. With the towering dunes of the desert encroaching on all sides, the small lagoon and swaying palms in the village seemed merely a mirage at first sight. The tiny town is a lure for party hardy travelers in search of a bit of adventure, so we had no problem meeting other shabby backpackers from around the world and discussing politics, culture and (of course) our travels. Made friends with two...err, four...six Irish, a French Canadian who lived in Arizona for year, a Swiss, an Aussie, etc. Relaxed at the poolside bar before tuckering off to bed at around 3:00 am. June 21:
Overlooking the Slopes.
Atop the dunes in Huacachina, preparing to board.
eyes were pried open by the bars of light entering our room. Deciding on the day´s activity, we jumped in the back of a dune buggy and, with a daredevil driver at the wheel, scorched off across the desert. Stopping near the summit of a few 100-200 foot dunes, we hoped out and strapped on our sandboards. Having snowboarded years earlier, I was aglow with a bit of confidence. Turning proved a bit of a challenge at first, but within an hour I was tipping the dunes and gliding down with relative ease. Our buggy driver would prompty pick us up at the bottom, speed us to the top of another (some were as high as 800 feet) and wax our boards. Back in Huacachina, we met up with to Americans from Virginia and downed a few drinks to the serenades of a Bob Marley concert being played on a drop screen at the bar. After midnight (and a couple of beers), we scaled a massive sand dune near the oasis and were greeted by an awesome panorama of our surrounds at the summit. A mist set in sometime in the early morning, and with only the tops of the
During a visit to the Plaza Mayor after dark.
silvery sand dunes protruding through the mists in the moonlight- like islands in a luminous sea - the scene seemed entirely dreamlike. Shuffled back down the dune and Ryan and one of the Virginians went for an ill-advised swim in the pool (remember, it's winter, and the temps in the desert plummet after dark). Said goodnight with chattering teeth. June 21:
Woke with a horrible stomach ache in the morning. The pisco sour (made with raw eggs) I had ordered from the bar the previous night had done me in. Spent the morning watching the Eurocup action with the bathroom just a quick jump away. Back to Ica in the afternoon, where we caught an overnight bus to Cusco. My stomach rocked, I tried my hardest to ignore the twists and turns throughout the night as we weaved through the Andean range and admired the brilliant views of the stars above.
We're in Cusco now. But that is for another time! Until then, take care.
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