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The nicest thing in the entire "city."
We read wondrous descriptions of Pisco in Let's Go and Lonely Planet, so you can imagine the shock and surprise we experienced when we arrived and found the streets unpaved, mounds of trash and debris on every corner, 90%!o(MISSING)f the buildings incomplete or significantly damaged, and a constant stench of rotten fish in the air. Apparently, Pisco used to be a beautiful, thriving city but in August of 2007, an earthquake destroyed
this town-- toppling all buildings, obliterating roads, leaving 75,000 houses uninhabitable, and killing more than 500 people. Note to self: use the most recent version of travel guides in the future! LOL
But on to our story. We took a taxi from Huacachina (5s/$1.67) to Ica, then boarded a bus (4s/$1.33 per ticket) to Pisco. Despite the assurances from the bus ticket seller person that the bus went to Pisco, we were dropped off outside of the city limits and had to take a taxi (3s/$1.00) into town. After recovering from the bombshell revelation that something major must have happened to turn this place into a shanty town, we set out to find a hotel. But all the hotels in our two guide books were no longer
there. Luckily, it wasn't too difficult to find a place to stay because of the seven buildings that are complete (4 of which are banks), we found the three star hotel La Casona. After peeping in the entrance, Laure didn't want to inquire into availability, thinking that it would be too expensive, but David insisted on checking out the hotel and we got a room for 45s ($15.00) a night. Woohoo!
Let us add that this was actually the newest and nicest room that we stayed that during our Peruvian trip! There was at least ONE highlight in Pisco! 😊
We then headed off to the beach, walking approximately 20 minutes through the deserted, dust-filled location that was once a city. But the beach wasn't much of a beach. Instead, there were the remains of what looked like structures, a demolished pier, and gruff men standing near the edge of an uninviting rocky beach doing nothing (or perhaps looking for lost tourists to rob). We turned around and walked right back to town to get something to eat. But we couldn't find anywhere to eat! Granted, there were a handful of tiny, greasy, dirty, hole-in-the-wall restaurants-- but that was
it. After the stomach problems we had from Puno to Arequipa, we definitely wanted to avoid eating at places like these. We found a tiny supermarket and bought cans of tuna, chips, beers, and chocolate bars. Then we walked all over "town" looking for bread and ended up buying it from a street vendor. We returned to our hotel room to eat and watch TV. Yes, TV, with cable! And take a shower. Yes, a hot shower! Laure was estatic!
ld! note to reader: there is absolutely nothing to do in this "town." But it's just a 15 minute taxi ride (10s/$3.33 - price negotiated down from 15s) to Paracas, a blip on the radar screen, but a village that obviously did not suffer the catastrophic devastation that Pisco did (or perhaps it was just rebuilt). Paracas is touristy. It's what we imagined Pisco to look like, only on a smaller scale. It has several restaurants which all offer fresh and delicious seafood, stands lined with trinkets for sale, and many, many tour operators.
We randomly selected Paracas Inca Tour. DO NOT USE PARACAS INCA TOUR!
We booked a boat trip (on the fast speed boat) to the
Damaged main cathedral in main plaza
Note the cracked roof and damaged roads. Did we mention there are more mototaxis than there are people? One even found itself in this photo.
Islas Ballestas (Peru's version of the Galapagos Islands) and a guided tour of the Reserva Nacional de Paracas for 55s ($18.33) per person. We were explicitly told that this price included the admission into the national park and were even shown a picture of the admission ticket -- "Price included in tour for you." Later, we found out that the brochures belonged to other travel agencies, they airbrushed a photo of their tour agency on the speed boat (they don't actually do the tours, they're more of a middle-man), and that the admission to the national park was NOT included in the price. DO NOT USE PARACAS INCA TOUR!
We had a lovely dinner (46s/$15.33) in Paracas. David had two large 620ml beers, ceviche, and fried fish. Laure had water, ceviche, and a rice/seafood dish similar to paella. See the photos -- oh so very yummy!! Then we caught a taxi (10s/$3.33, negotiated down from 15s) back to Pisco, watched a hilarious movie ( Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
) and got a good night's sleep.
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