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Published: March 20th 2013
The end is coming. I can smell it. I can feel the hustle and bustle of the Lima airport stalking me from 160 miles away. I walk quickly, looking over my shoulder to make sure it can't touch me, and realize the only sure way to beat it back is by going out and having copious amounts of fun to spite it. So, that becomes the plan for Ica.
My Cruz del Sur bus took longer than I thought. I have no idea where I got the idea that it would only take a half hour. In that scenario it was perfect. I would leave Nazca at 11:30, arrive here around noon, have lunch and head off to explore. I reality, I missed lunch entirely, arrived to a blisteringly hot, crowded, madhouse of a city. I'm not sure exactly how the rules of the road go in Peru, but what it seems like is that the one with the loudest horn is able to push to the front and create a new lane. From there, it appears that the next way to tell who goes is simply a game of chicken. It works for them, but man it makes the
city loud and hectic.
Once I was settled into the hotel, I asked at the desk for a taxi to Huacachina, the oasis in the desert. The next thing I knew, I was signed up for another dune buggy/sand boarding outing. Well, pshaw, why not? That ought to keep those snarkey end of vacation blues at bay for a while. Huacachina is mainly a series of old hotels, restaurants and stores surrounding a lagoon. I have never been to Atlantic City, but in my mind, if Atlantic City was filled with palm trees in a desert oasis, it would be Huacachina. I could be wrong, but that is how it felt. Since I had about 45 minutes to walk around before my dune buggy tour, I took some pictures of the lagoon and sand dunes. The dunes really encroach on this place, making it truly feel like a little oasis. Unfortunately, it has an air of elegant disrepair. I will post a shot of the changing rooms to see if you can get the same feeling I felt.
Although I was on time to the dune buggy, the tour ended up going over 45 minutes late. While I
was sitting in the buggy waiting, I talked with the other person who was there. It turns out that he is from the same town that I am. It was great to sit and talk about local places with a fellow Californian. The other 4 people finally showed up and off we went out to the desert. These dunes are much larger than the ones near Nazca. We went up and down like a bat out of hell, stopping a few times for photos. And then, we stopped at the top of a huge dune and it was time to hop on the sand boards and take off. I thought we went fast in Nazca, but holy cow, I didn't have a clue. I really picked up some speed on the way down. And the best part was that after we all zipped down, he would drive down, pick us up and take us to a different, steeper slope. It was so much fun. All too soon, it was time to head back and call it a day. I chose to stay in Huacachina for dinner so that I wouldn't have to figure out where to go once I was
back at the hotel. I ended up eating on the deck of a bar/restaurant overlooking the lagoon. It was while I was sitting there eating that I realized that the whole desert oasis thing made me feel like I was in a Las Vegas casino with a desert oasis theme. I'm not sure why that popped into my head, but it did and I still feel that way.
On Tuesday I had a tour set for the Ballestas Islands, protected wildlife sanctuaries off the coast of Paracas. Migratory birds, pelicans, red boobies (I kid you not), penguins and sea lions call these islands home. On the way we saw the giant candelabra-like etching on the side of a hill. As with the Nazca Lines, no one is sure why this is here and theories abound. No matter what the reason, it would be next to impossible to miss this huge icon of Paracas. Shortly after stopping for that, the Ballestas Islands came into view along with multitudes of birds flying around. On the islands the guano is deep, nasty smelling and used for fertilizer. No visitors are permitted on the islands, but the tour does a good job of
It looks so much nicer at night.
showing many different areas and types of animals. The sea lions have had their pups, many of which were on the beach, but a couple mothers and pups were in the water for diving lessons. Being out on the turquoise water on a gorgeous sunny day was a treat in itself, but to see all of this wildlife was just icing on the cake. And honestly, I love icing more than cake. We spend a good deal of time motoring about the islands watching for better photo shots, new wildlife and different views of the caves honeycombing through the islands. Just like monkfish is poor man's lobster, Ballestas Islands are called the poor man's Galapagos Islands. And you know what, I am perfectly fine with that. Once we had seen, watched, photographed, video taped and enjoyed as much as we could, we headed back to port.
I took the rest of the day as down time. For fun I walked to a regional Ica museum to see ancient artifacts, mummies, fabrics and such. The one thing that stood out in my mind were the skulls that had been deformed to look almost cone shaped. While touring the Colca Canyon
At least I thought it looked that way.
the guide talked about how some of the people would purposely deform skulls. It was not a bad thing, but rather done for religious or some status reason. Regardless, seeing skulls that made even my forehead look small made me feel so much better and wonder how they were able to do that. This actually made the harrowing journey across busy streets worthwhile. While running across the supposed 2 lane road, 4 to 5 in reality, while chanting "please don't hit me please don't hit me" I started questioning the wiseness of this outing. Rest assured that no one hit me and all was well. From the museum I walked to the sad little Plaza de Armas. Ugh, I hopped into a taxi and headed back to the hotel to rest and read. Off to Lima tomorrow. And if you are someone from Ohio reading this, no, I am not trekking to Allen County to visit the Lima Mall or Frontier Mall. lol
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