Sand dunes and the mad honker!

Trip Start Aug 03, 2007
Trip End Aug 01, 2008

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Still moving up towards Lima on our final days of Peruvian travel, we were definitely making the most of our time. We took an overnight but that almost didn't stop at our destination (the city of Ica), but fortunately we happened to wake up just in time to be let off somewhere in the city at 6:00 a.m. Frazzled and groggy we managed to find our way to the center of town. Ica may sound familiar to you because it was one of the cities affected by the massive 8.0 earthquake that hit Peru just a few months ago in August. We saw some rubble in this city, however the worst hit areas were the smaller towns of Pisco and Chincha just north of Ica. We drove past them on our way out of town and it was pretty sad. We saw a lot of tents set up and small homes that looked like the walls had been temporarily fabricated out of a very flimsy material, surely not something that would hold up or hold out the rain when it comes in December.
The main reason we were stopping in Ica was to go to a smaller little resort town about 2 miles outside of Ica called Huacachina. It is basically a small lagoon surrounded by giant sand dunes. With 2 other Americans and 2 gals from Wales, we hopped in a dune buggy (the best part of the day) and headed for the dunes. I think we had both assumed we would have actual snowboards to use for the actual sand boarding, however this was not so. We got the cheap man's version of a snowboard...a wooden plank shaped like a snowboard with some velcro straps for your ankles. The guide/driver would quickly put a thin layer of wax on the boards before we went down a hill but with the heat of the sand the wax did not seem to make a difference. It was much harder then we thought it would be considering that both James and I have experience snowboarding. We figured out that you really just need to shoot straight down the hill without trying to turn in order to keep your speed up. James took a run while sitting on the board and had a good time at that (see the attached video!). We had the most fun, however, in the dune buggy. Our driver was crazy and it felt like we were on a roller coaster, flying down steep sand dunes and gaining speed to zoom back up them.
Later that afternoon we got back on the bus and headed a few hours up the coast to Lima. Our final day in Lima was great...we met up with Ruben Sanchez, a fellow whose father works for James' dad and the L.A. Times. We met up with him, his fiance Monica, and a couple of Ruben's work colleagues for a delicious lunch and then joined them at the ExpoVino, a wine expo going on in Lima. Ruben works in the wine business so he was on his way there after lunch and invited us to join. We got to wear a wine glass on a necklace and wander around tasting wines from all over South America and even California! We felt a bit out of place however loved getting to learn and taste!
One of the most classic moments of the day, however, had to have been the experience in the cab ride to the airport that night. I believe that in a past blog we mentioned how CRAZY the driving is in Peru, Lima especially. Well, during our hour-long cab ride, I noticed right away that a) our cab driver was not driving in an actual lane but was pretty much doing his own thing, and b) he was more then happy to honk his horn. So I decided that this could be a fun little game to see how many times he honked his horn. Are you ready for this? 86 times!!!!! And that is only how many times he actually put his hand to the horn, not how many honks he actually made. Sometimes he pressed the horn 1x, but usually it was 2-3 times at a time. It was nuts. In my experience in the U.S., you usually use your horn for a few reasons such as you see someone you know and want to get their attention, someone is not paying attention to the traffic lights and you give them a gentle reminder to move along, you are trying to protect yourself from a crazy driver, or of course, you are just mad and give someone a little honk to communicate that to them. In this situation though, I truthfully did not known why he was honking most of the time. Chaos!!!! We were glad to make it to the airport unscathed and begin our journey into Brazil. In total, we spent about a months time in Peru and really loved the country and the people. We hope to be back someday to see more.
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