Lima and Huacachina

Before arriving in Lima, I had been told to only give it 1 or 2 days by other travelers.  “It’s just another big town” they said, and I believed that to be true.  I booked a room at a hostel called Puriwasi for a night and set out to get acclimated to the area of Miraflores.  It’s a super touristy part of Lima with coffee shops and restaurants galore.  Take note – you won’t be saving much money here.

At the hostel, I met up with two girls from Australia, Nessa and Sean, and headed out to the malecon (boardwalk area) for some food.  Every restaurant we encountered was pricier than normal and since we couldn’t make up our minds of where to go, we settled on going to Chili’s.  I ordered the Sampler Platter, which is full of all things that make my soul soar – Buffalo wings, Southwestern eggrolls, and chicken fingers.  The sweet taste of home.  That night, I joined all the hostelers on the roof for some Pisco Sours and travel talk.  Andrew, from Scotland runs the bar.  He kinda fell into the job a couple months ago when as he describes it, the owner offered him the job after he had made him the best Pisco Sour that he had ever had.

The next morning after realizing that I was still very tired from riding overnight buses the last couple of nights, I booked another night at the hostel.  I decided to take it easy that day.  Later, Emad, James (two other hostelers), and I hopped a bus to the center of Lima to check out the Parque de Reserva where they light up a bunch of cool water fountains at night.  After arriving back at the hostel, struck with a bad case of indigestion, I decided to call it a night.  The next day, I joined a group of people from the hostel to go out to the historical center of Lima and see the Monastery of San Francisco and the catacombs buried underneath.  While not as extensive as the catacombs located in Paris, France, I still found the tour to be quite enjoyable.  That night, I joined everyone on the roof for a Pisco Sour tutorial and the chance to say goodbye.  Most everyone that I had befriended at the hostel were leaving the next day and I was ready for my next adventure.  I had one more stop to make before going to Cuzco.

Sandboarding in Huacachina

Before leaving on my trip, I had heard about sandboarding from my lifecoach, Gracie.  Basically, you strap a snowboard to your feet and slide down a 300 foot sand dune.  It’s become a huge draw for travelers to go to Huacachina.  I’d been looking forward to it the whole trip.  Unfortunately, the day before arriving in Huacachina, I kinda messed up my foot.  That being said, I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity.

Upon arriving in Huacachina, a natural oasis outside Ica, I located a hostel and immediately signed up for a sand buggy and sandboarding adventure.  Within a half hour, I was getting fitted for a snowboard.  The bindings were crap and the snowboard looked like it had seen better days.  However, I felt lucky they even found a pair of snowboard boots to fit me.  Soon after, seven other individuals and I got on the sand buggy and screamed as the driver drove us up and over sand dunes at breakneck speeds.  I loved every minute of it.  After arriving at our destination, I dismounted and got my board ready by rubbing candle wax on the bottom.  My foot was sore, but I grunted through the discomfort and latched on my board.  I had visions of flying down the sand dune, using my skills as a snowboarder to carve and weave back and forth like one of those pros you see on the X-Games.  Not so.  I came to find out that it is extremely difficult to carve on sand like you can on a mountain.  Maybe I was too timid or not used to more “powder”, but the best that I could muster was going 30 or 40 feet at a time before falling.  I finished with a huge smile, spitting sand from my mouth and trying to shake the sand from my hair.  I arrived back at my hostel, said hello to my roommate – the biggest cockroach I’d ever seen in my life and proceeded to take a shower and wash the sand out of all of my orifices.  I ended the night at Banana’s, a local pub, watching a Tom-cruise wannabe from Cocktail overemphasize every bartender trademark move used to make a Pisco Sour.

The next day, knowing I’d be leaving on a 16 hour overnight bus ride to Cuzco, I decided to sign up for a Pisco wine tour in Ica.  Pisco is a grape that the peruvians grow.  They make a wine and a liquor out of it.  Due to the climate and the fermentation process, the wine is extremely sweet.  I quite enjoyed the wine.  When it came time to try the liquor however, I startled the girl next to me when I almost gagged on it.  Smooth….. I know.

I left that night on a very comfortable bus but uncomfortable with the feeling that I’ve been pushing myself too hard across Peru.  Shouldn’t I be enjoying myself without trying to push from one destination to the other?  I had all these visions before I left that I’d be doing language studies and volunteer work in an effort to expand my horizons.  “Go easy on yourself”, I reminded myself.  I was just getting my feet weet.  I was only 4 1/2 weeks into my adventure.  I turned on my movie display and picked a movie from the list.  “Fun Size” looked like it would probably be stupid, but somewhat enjoyable.  I settled back into my cozy bus seat with the realization that I was going to have to make some adjustments when I reached Cuzco.