Mummies and Sand Dunes

Trip Start Sep 04, 2013
Trip End Jun 01, 2014

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, September 25, 2013

After reading quite a bit about Ica and Huacachina, I decided that despite the advice not to stay in Ica, I would prefer to be there so I can go to the museum, which was the main reason I came. This turned out to be a mistake. Within 3 minutes of walking from the hostel to the Plaza de Armas with some girls from the hostel, we realised why we were advised to stay in Huacachina. It seemed that either there was a disproportionate number of men to women in the town, or the men of Ica simply did not know how to treat women. Every few steps, someone would whistle at us, blow us kisses or shout something like "oye mami". Most of the acknowledgements we received were pretty innocent, but were still unsolicited and quite annoying.

I spent my first night in Ica having a few drinks with the two brothers that run the hostel and their Peruvian friends. We exchanged music and shared a bottle of cheap supermarket wine. We then went out to a local bar where we tasted some Peruvian wine and at least 6 different kinds of Pisco straight. One of the friends with us was a tour guide of the nearby vineyards and Pisco factories, so he was able to explain the differences between each drink, but to me, almost all of them tasted the same, too strong for my liking. Nevertheless, it was still a good experience to try the local drinks with some knowledgeable locals. However what followed was not so good, rather it was embarrassing, trying to dance Salsa! I learnt a few moves, but mostly I waited for the next Reggaeton song to come on.

I got up relatively early the next day, nursing only a small hangover and went to the regional museum as it was the main reason I came to Ica. The museum holds an impressive collection of pre-Columbian mummies and some of the first examples in the world of trepanning (primitivebrain surgery). The collection is displayed very tastefully and luckily included some explanations in English. Photographs of this part of the museum were forbidden, and rightfully so. The most fascinating items were the Pre-Inca elongated skulls. The sign in the museum stated that the deformation of the skull would be started at a very young age and is believed to have been ritualistic and possibly a sign of prestige.

After an educating morning, it was time to jumble up some of that information in my head, and what better way to do so than a sand dune buggy ride through the dessert near Huacachina. As soon as you get on the sand, the driver races up the closest dune, gets to the very top and then performs a U-turn right back down. We spent a good two hours screaming as the driver grinned every time we reached the top of a dune and rolled down the other end almost vertically. There was a chance to try some sandbording, but it really didnīt appeal to me at this time, perhaps it was the "bumpy" ride or the fact that there were no instructions other than, ī"lay on the board and go down". Watching the sun set over the dessert was really beautiful, but having been to the dessert in Dubai, I felt I was comparing the two. After the sun set we had a few minutes to look aboud Huacachina, the so called "Oasis in the dessert". This oasis really reminded me of the touristic part of Corfu, with bars like "Huaca-fucking-china" I was glad that I stayed in Ica despite its cons.
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