The oasis of Huacachina and from Lima to Chiclayo

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April 30th 2013
Published: May 3rd 2013
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30th April ’13 Huacachina

Visited the café down the road for breakfast and ended up waiting an hour to get scrambled eggs, juice and tea! There were only 2 other people in there as well. Anyway that out the way we crossed the road to the Peru Bus station and bought tickets for Ica. No sooner bought than we were off, with us the only westerners on board again. Once more a dubbed in spanish nice gory war film to set the mood.

After a short 3 hour ride we pulled into Ica – a large sprawling city with chaotic traffic (apparently we arrived just as school was finishing and this was the reason?!). After buying tommorow’s bus tickets we took a taxi from just outside to the ‘desert oasis’ of Huacachina. Although only 15 minutes away you could be on a whole different planet.

All the built up sprawl gradually eased off and then we were driving round huge sand dunes and into this tiny little enclave of peace. We were dropped off close to the hotel we had booked and found our way through the garage and out into the hotel area. It is basically a double row of rooms overlooking a lovely pool with a café and bar on one side.

The surly receptionist demanded to know if we had a reservation and once she found out we did she quickly checked us in. The room was fine, basic with a fan (which we certainly needed) and a bathroom.

Off we went to explore….. it really is a sleepy little place, probably more so as it is not high season but we didn’t seen a lot of other tourists around. The small hotels and restaurants are all built around the promenade which surrounds 3 sides of the lagoon and huge sand dunes tower over it all.

I had read this place was supposed to be a mecca for gringos and backpackers and it got pretty wild, offering such delights as the ‘shit faced tour’ all of which had made me think twice about coming here, but we saw no sign of this and I was glad we had. The main draw is the chance to go sand boarding and riding a buggy over the dunes, but as we had tried sand boarding in New Zealand and had heard about the crazy buggy rides and didn’t want to put our backs/necks out (god we sound old) the main draw for me was the chance to swim in a pool!

So I spent the afternoon swimming and reading and Howard went for a walk up the dunes, by the time he got back he looked like a boiled lobster! You could practically see the steam coming out of his ears. It took him a while to recover.

It was really nice wandering around the lagoon in the evening, with no traffic to dodge and everything feeling really laid back and chilled out. We ate in one of the cheap places but the food was superb and it was just such a nice change of pace, why on earth didn’t we decide to spend a few days here?!

1/5/13 On to Lima

After wandering around trying to find where breakfast was served one of the miserable staff pointed us to a restaurant at the end of the garage. Breakfast done we had a last walk around the lagoon, climbed a smaller sand dune and the grabbed the rucksacks, checked out – a gracias only earned us a grunt! Found a taxi and we were back into Ica and the bus station.

Yesterday, I’m still not sure how, we ended up buying VIP bus tickets to Lima and I must say it was a very smart bus and clean, with lots of room in the seats. We still had lots of films but no horror or war and no English subtitles, still the first one on was Beowulf so that was fine, only trouble was right at the end at the crucial moment the attendant just turned it off!! To make matters worse I can’t remember if he was seduced by the Halle Berry demon or not!! Oh well then it was on to another film and I gave up and read.

It was 4 ½ hours to Lima and the bus pulled into this little tiny bus station which was surrounded by housing and we had no idea where we were! I ventured out for a fag and was instantly harassed by taxi touts who eventually gave up but were really aggressive, oh dear I don’t like this!

We had heard lots of tales of unscrupulous taxi drivers in Lima so we were being super cautious and fortunately inside the bus station there were a couple of official taxis so we took one of those across Lima to the Cruz de Sur bus station (to buy our tickets for the next day). We got there with no mishaps, phew.

This bus station was really flash and big compared to all the others we have seen in Peru. The lady on the information stand spoke English and told us how to get tickets. Basically they have a system like the post office in Stockton, where we you have 4 choices of things you want, press one and a ticket pops out and then you hang around until your number comes up.

Tickets bought (11 hours tomorrow, gulp) it was back to attempting to find a taxi that wouldn’t rip us off, rob or abduct us. We tried a couple that were dropping people off but no one seemed to have heard of the hostel we wanted or even the road it was on. The official taxi sorter outer intervened and told us to wait for one of the official cars as it wasn’t safe, so wait we did.

The official man knew the hostel and the road and though we probably paid over the odds we arrived safely and that was the main thing.

We had to ring the bell on the iron gates to be let in but once inside we were given a warm welcome and then I discovered Howard had booked us into a youth hostel……….well I think that’s stretching things a bit, don’t you?!

Having said that I didn’t see a single youth in the place, in fact I only met 2 other people neither of whom qualified! The room comprised of a lumpy double bed and two sets of bunks, with a bathroom which, although private, had windows opening into it from all the other bathrooms and the sound certainly carried!

Howard wasn’t feeling well (dodgy stomach) so we just walked up the road to the only place nearby to eat – a burger type place and then went back to the hostel where he continued to be ill. I chatted to the 2 other residents, a dutch girl at the start of a year’s travelling and an elderly American lady who was setting up libraries in schools in remote parts of Peru and Ecquador – which made for an interesting conversation and being plied with some kind of 45% alcohol made by Indians from sugar cane which she had brought back with her from the jungle! I told her if I missed the bus in the morning she was responsible.

Getting to sleep wasn’t easy a group of other guests turned up late, cranked the music up and I lay there singing along to songs from my youth! Howard had moved into one of the other beds so he wouldn’t disturb me when he needed to run to the loo and told me the next day that he had spent a good 10 minutes in the cupboard next to the bed as he couldn’t find his way in the pitch black! It was only when we felt cobwebs he realised where he must be!!

2/5/13 Lima to Chiclayo

Up at 6.45am, quick cuppa, walk down to the main road, taxi and at the bus station. Here they have an airport style baggage check (fortunately I spotted this) so we gave them our bags and then went through a search and scanner before we could go on the bus. We were videoed again (lalalalala don’t want to think about why) and then set off.

It was the usual journey, the only gringos on the bus, lots of films, 2 meals were included, lots and lots of desert and mountains, couple of towns and on and on it went. 11 hours came and went and finally 13 ½ bloody hours later we were in Chiclayo. It was pitch black and the bus station was up at dark street.

Despite being ill Captain Stephenson said ‘don’t worry men, I have a map ’ – well that’s a lie, but he did say ‘don’t worry I have a map and the hotel isn’t far’ and he did and it was only a couple of blocks. Crossing the road is seriously bad for your health but we made it and are now at Los Portales which is a nice clean hotel with not a lot near by apart from closed up buildings and masses of manic traffic.

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