Driving with Jesus

Trip Start Jul 31, 2006
Trip End Aug 24, 2006

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Saturday, August 5, 2006

Sea lions, penguins, distilleries, sand boarding, and dune buggying in one day is a lot. Thatīs why Iīm so dang tired.

After spending the night in Pisco, we left the hotel at 7am and took a mini-bus to the pier in Paracas. Destination: The Ballestas Islands.

Equipped with a hoodie, windbreaker, toque, and a bright green lifejacket, we boarded a small motor boat. Despite the size, we still managed to fit in about 30 people. The weather was bleak and as per usual, overcast. So needless to say, it was rather chilly cruising the Pacific in pursuit of our intended destination.

After about 10 minutes of spray in our face (the girl beside me sadly got quite drenched), we slowed down when we rounded the peninsula at Paracas. Situated on the side of the hill (and only visible from the sea), was a geoglyph well over 100 metres high. Itīs called the "Candleabra". Nobody knows who and when it was put there, but some theories include a pre-Columbian culture or perhaps even one of the Spanish. If you ask me it looked as if a couple kids had made it over night.

After plowing through a scene from Alfred Hitchcockīs "Birds", we arrived at the Ballestas Islands. Because humans can`t really access these islands, the wildlife has made it there own little sanctuary. Iīve never seen so many birds in my life. They littered the cliff faces and constantly swooped down from above. I was so concerned about incoming guano at times that I likely jeopardized my chance to take more pictures than I did.

There were even little Humboldt penquins. Cutest little things... following each other along the rock face.

I wasn't expecting too much from this boat excursion, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Boarded a bus and 45 minutes later we arrived at a Pisco Distillery. Kind of interesting. If a vineyard like this existed in Canada, Iīm pretty sure the Department of Health would quickly shut it down. Their techniques were very basic and traditional. In fact, they even go so far to have Miss Pisco come out each year and grace their grapes with the presence of her feet. What a dear.

One of the funnier moments of the trip came when it was time to taste the wine. Forming a semi-circle, we were given several different wines to try. I canīt say I was a big fan of any of them, but one of the girls on the trip was worse off then me. She soon became very popular with our cameras, as her anguish became our photo opportunity.

The next stop that afternoon was the oasis at Huachachina... located near Ica. Wow! Iīve never seen sand dunes that high in my life. They were like mini-mountains. And situated right smack dab in the middle of these dunes was a quaint little oasis. Lined with palm trees and cafes, it really gave you a calming feeling. Words truly canīt describe this place.

After enjoying this brief moment of tranquility (and enduring a horrible magician while we ate lunch), it was time for a change of pace... dune buggying! Most of us opted for this and piled into two buggies. If I had any trepidation beforehand it was soon squashed when I learned Jesus would be driving us around. Funny... he didnīt look like the Jesus I had seen in the nativity scenes from years gone by.

Anyhow, this was great fun. I never figured a dune buggy could go that fast and climb dunes that steep. Once we got over top the first dune, it became apparent as to how big the surrounding desert really was. It would be so easy to get lost out there.

We also stopped three times and were given the chance to sandboard down the dunes... either on your belly or standing up. I tried standing and had little success with that. I had sand throughout my clothes on just my first run. The next two times I opted to "belly-down". The speeds you can pick up doing this was extradordinary. Fortunately, Jesus picked us up at the bottom... īcause when I tried to walk up the first dune, I was heaving by the end of it. Hopefully, this isnīt a sign of whatīs to come on the Inca Trail.

After being thoroughly exfoliated with sand, we left Huachachina and made a 2 hour drive to Nasca. At points it was one of the most boring drives you could make (straight road through a desert) and other times it was quite picturesque (switch-backs through the mountains as the sun goes down).

Tomorrow, we fly over the Nasca Lines!!!
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