Ica is iky and that's why they invented pisco.

Trip Start Jan 06, 2010
Trip End Apr 20, 2013

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, March 5, 2010

Sarah: Not what we thought but okay. We at first had planned to go from Cuzco to Nasca for the famous Nasca Lines in the sand used by the Inca’s for trade but not only was the direct route there flooded and we would have to go the long way by bus but the flights to the lines in Nasca are closed due to inspection. So we flew from Cusco, avoiding a 27 hour bus ride to Ica, to Lima and then took a 4.5 hour bus ride to Ica and 5 min taxi to Huacachina. We read in Lonely Planet, our not so helpful at times travel guide, that Ica is a depressing dump and to stay in Huacachina if you go at all. We talked to some people who recommended this as a stop so we went. Huacachina has little to offer except for the very interesting landscape of the surrounding sand dunes, the supposedly natural lagoon, and it’s only a very short cab ride to the city of Ica, but that really doesn’t matter because once in Ica you simply will want to go right back to Huacachina with a new found appreciation. Ica has no charm, no good restaurants, taxi drivers that harass you everywhere and it sucks. It sucks so bad that this is where the famous and dangerous liquor Pisco was invented by the Incas. No, it was not invented in Pisco, it was the Incas of Ica who created it and shipped it to Spain over 450 years ago. Our lovely, local bodega tour guide informed us that the Spanish couldn’t pronounce the Inca’s language of Quechua very well and shortened it to “Pisco” from some other longer p-word. So why is the town Pisco called “Pisco?” because pisco means birds in Quechua and there are famous islands off the coast of Pisco that is home to thousands of birds.

So we went on a tour of two bodegas that make wine and pisco and it was pretty strange looking at seemingly thirsty vineyards amongst so much dry dirt and with the rolling sand dune backdrop. Funny enough they served us the wine out of shot glasses as well as pisco. Definitely the most unique tasting experience I ever had and afterwords Ica didn’t look so terribly dreadful…but still pretty bad.
Chris- Places like Ica is what backpacking is all about. When setting an itinerary one should try to see all types of townships right down to the cliche touristics of Cuzco, to the major cities like Buenos Aires, to get away towns like Arica, to....to...to this mildly entertaining, low quality, truck stop city. It's like stopping in Modesto while backpacking in California if you were a Canadian. Not that the two cities look the same but that are equally less than touristic. The main square is treeless and all the containing buildings are painted with that color of yellow that's so bright you instantly start to cry as this radio active like setting made things feel twenty degrees hotter. There are way more taxis than people in this town which is now a solid Peruvian trend. I had almost everything to make this backpacking experience complete. We needed to eat at a restaurant. so we innie-minnie-miny-moed for a cab and he took us to a popular cevicheria. After we got over how much the food sucked we tried to keep an open mind and walk the town some more but this overpopulated desert city lacked so much charm that I felt that my good looks were going to melt, so we fled and the next taxi driver that won our "need a taxi" game show took us right back to Huacachina where all the other backpackers go to debrief after the visual trauma.

Our stay in Haucachina was kinda cool because it's nestled between two huge sand dunes and a lagoon. Our hostel was like a pay as you go resort with a bar restaurant, hammocks, wild tortoises, massage therapists, and tours. The room was okay but too depressing to hang out in so we went on a tour of the vineyards and did some pisco tasting. It was more like drinking shots of liquor at a vineyard while our tour guide laughed at us. Either way we had a great time and went back to our hostel, eagerly packed up and left for we saw no other reasons to stay after seeing the vineyard capital of Peru.
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