Trip Start Feb 22, 2010
Trip End May 22, 2010

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Sand and Lake Hostel

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Monday, May 17, 2010

To continue with recent tradition, our bus journey from Arequipa to Ica (a five minute taxi from the lagoon-village of Huacachina) was not exactly pleasant. After our initial departure delay in Arequipa, we finally set off on a smelly double decker coach with seemingly unopenable windows, making for tough breathing! As we both began to fall asleep, we suddenly noticed that the bus had come to a halt in the middle of nowhere on the side of a darkened road. Seeing it as an opportunity to grab some well-needed fresh air, we made our way off the bus. It was time to practice our Spanish! The driver and another random man explained to us that we had broken down, and it would be four hours before help was due to arrive! There was nothing we could do but sit and wait, so after a bit of a leg stretch, we returned to our seats. The next thing we knew, we were once again on the road; we had fallen asleep and so are clueless as to how long we were actually parked by the roadside, but as daylight arrived it was clear that we were severely behind schedule and sat amongst some very unimpressed locals. At about 10am (already about two hours after our scheduled arrival time) we hungrily ate a much needed yet bizarre breakfast of rice and chicken in a local cafe, before hitting the road once more. We finally arrived at gone midday, slightly annoyed at our unlucky choice of bus company yet relieved to have almost completed our journey. A taxi-man picked us up and took us to Huacachina, whilst simultaneously attempting to sell us a hostel and day-excursions. We politely declined and set about having a look around the village, quickly realising simply how small the place was! We eventually found a double room in a small hostel for a good price. We had at last arrived!

Huacachina is beautiful. Set around a lagoon with a cluster of bars, restaurants and hostels surrounded by sand dunes on all sides. The weather was great too. We went and sunbathed in hammocks before exploring a couple of bars. In the evening we had a great meal before getting an early night due to our 17 hour journey the night before!

There are plenty of places in Huacachina offering sand buggying and boarding trips, and they all seem pretty similarly priced. Ashleigh wasn't so keen but couldn't let Jamie go alone, so after booking a trip we gathered at the meeting point in the afternooon (all trips leave at around 4pm to avoid the intense midday heat) and set off in our buggy for an hour of 'thrills'. The driver flung the buggy around and we flew over the dunes at frightening speeds! As we were sat at the back of the buggy, we heard the people at the front of the buggy scream before we had even seen the drop ahead of us! During the 'ride' the driver stopped three times to allow us to sandboard down the dunes. Jamie was a pro of course, having had plenty of practice whilst snowboarding. Ashleigh however had never snowboarded before, but nevertheless down the first dune only fell once, and falling into sand was not painful. Jamie was impressed, and filled Ashleigh with a little too much confidence by calling her 'a natural'. Jamie flew down the second dune, and Ashleigh, with her newly-found sandboarding talent, followed him. However, disaster struck. As Ashleigh picked up speed, she began to wobble, and then the front of the board dug into the sand. She flipped, and somehow ended up with her head in the sand - literally. And fine sand gets everywhere! Her neck was hurt, and her confidence lost. The cries of 'ooowh' went up as the full drama of the face-plant in the sand was witnessed. Jamie tried his best not to laugh. It was a moment to forget for Ashleigh. The third dune was so steep that we were only allowed to go down it on our front. We then saw the sun set over the dunes before heading back to Huacachina. This trip is an experience that we would both recommend, despite the injuries and sand-filled ears!

That evening - our final one in Huacachina, we went to another lagoon-facing restaurant. There we saw three people from university - as you do when in the middle of the desert. This bizarre meeting developed into an exchange of stories and evening of catch-ups, before heading back to our hostel. It was yet another case of our travelling experience in a small small world.

After breakfast at the hostel, we caught a taxi to Ica. Huacachina and its beautiful weather was definitely worth the stop-off. Lima is only four hours away, so we were not fussy about travelling with an expensive 'gringo' bus company. So, once more, and for the final time (sob sob), we travelled local-style, on-way to our final destination - Lima...

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