A quest for wind in Paracas

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July 21st 2011
Published: July 21st 2011
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So far our time in Peru had been spent exclusively above the altitude of 2000m, and while we had loved the mountain adventuring our bodies were beginning to crave some warmth. Fortunately this intriguing country is not all mountainous. Far from it in fact. It has sparse deserts that stretch all the way to Chile, lush Amazonian jungle which covers the north east, and of course its elongated pacific coast.

We were heading to the Amazon next, but having not seen the sea in two months, since leaving Rio, we decided to make a brief stop in Paracas.

This small community is famous for two things, the multitude of birdlife which thrives on the nearby Ballestas Islands, and its consistent stable wind and safe bay which make it a perfect destination for wind sports. You can guess which of the two we were there for.

The journey from Cusco to Paracas took a tiresome twenty-two hours and finished with a rattling thirty minute lunchbox delivering mission. As our bus chugged along the coastal road past smelly fish factory after smelly fish factory the conductor proceeded to pass out lunch parcels to all the hard-working labourers. All the lunch-baskets were gone by the time we arrived in Paracas, and fortunately the scent of foul fish did not waft that far on the breeze.

We had found a lovely room at 'Zarcillo Paradiso' and had in the space of half an hour explored all of Chaco, the seafront town centre of Paracas. A walk along the promenade reminded me a little of a sandy Suffolk beach, except for the flocks of pelicans and the empanada stalls of course.

The next day Lewi began his kite surfing course. Well that was the idea anyway. We hailed the one and only tuk-tuk and cruised down to the fancy end of Paracas. Wedged between the Hilton and a very swanky private residence we found the Kite Peru caravan and lounging beside it, Octavio and Serena. The kit seemed good and was overflowing from the caravan and both our new acquaintances were brimming with enthusiasm, the only problem was the wind. There wasn't any.

"Normally the wind is very good here, at least 15-20 knots" Serena assured us, as Lewi deftly manoeuvred the practice kite, getting a feel for the actions. Today it was gusty and on-shore, combined with the lacklustre speed these made totally opposing conditions to the ones we wanted. So we agreed to meet again tomorrow with hopes for better wind.

At 1pm the next day Lewi was back at the caravan (I had decided to stay in town) and commenced the waiting game with Octavio, JoseLuis and Serena. They hitched the caravan to the back of a dirt buggy and drove to the edge of the beach where the sun blasted sand dunes collide with the bay. By about 2pm there was enough wind and the lessons began.

At a pitch black 7pm there was a knock on the hotel room door and I opened it to find a grinning, bedraggled looking Lewi dripping on the doorstep. "Why are you wet?" I said thinking the the first day would be land-based.

It turns out that Lewi was showing real promise in the sport and so had moved on to the next level and was in fact doing so well that it was past sunset when they finished, he having just stood up and surfed across the bay (well, for ten seconds at least).

So we fell I into a daily routine: Arise and check wind conditions. Wander into town, eat an avocado sandwich for breakfast. Read, write and recline back at the pad and then head off for the beach after lunch.

Today I joined the crew in the rusted sand buggy and walked along the seaweed strewn shoreline as Serena shouted advice to Lewi. Strangely and uncharacteristically the wind just would not blow, which obviously makes being pulled by the kite harder and involves more skill on the part of the kiter in trying to capture the wind.

Lewi worked hard at mastering the light breeze over the next couple of days, and it was great to watch as he edged the board beneath his feet and was taken by the billowing kite above him on a powerful tack out into the sunset. Both the sport and the setting are very photogenic and I enjoyed my contemplative strolls along the beach while Lewi toiled with the technicalities in the ocean.

The mission to start the sand buggy at the end of the afternoon was a funny part of our daily life. A grouchy salt worn machine, the buggy needed jump-starting everyday, which generally involved either being towed by the quad-bike or pushed along the beach by all the men, while Serena and I stood around and chatted. Eventually it spluttered into life and the lessons were concluded.

A seafood dinner in one of the town's little wooden shack restaurants washed down with a beer or two, completed the days activity.

Paracas had been a great place to spend a few days. We loved the small town community and were lucky enough to observe a festival in reverence to the goddess of the sea, Yakumama. The residents of Paracas gathered on the prom, danced traditional whirls and threw flower garlands off the pier, it was beautiful. The food was fresh, seafood ruled and chocolate pecans were a local delicacy for desert. Our days were filled with talk of gusty offshores, edging, figures of eights, working the kite and not leaning back. It was really cool to watch Lewi succeeding at this tricky sport, if only the wind could have really let loose he might have accomplished a jump or two! Although at least this way, there's something left to work towards next time.

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