From Sand Dunes to Serenity...

Trip Start Jul 10, 2009
Trip End Jul 27, 2009

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

We woke up at 5:30 today, just 3 and a half hours after going to bed, so we could catch our bus to Ica. Somehow, despite the blaring movie being played over the loud speaker, we managed to sleep for 4 of the 4 and a half hour ride. The bus pulled into a beautiful hotel in the outskirts of Ica. It seemed to be a family resort. There we met the tour operator, who tried to get us to go on a group tour even though we'd payed for a private tour. Clearly, she didn't know who she was dealing with. The thing to do in Ica involves everything sandy--dune buggy rides, sand boarding, and visiting the oasis in the middle of the dunes--so that's exactly what we did.

After having a quick breakfast (at 11:30) we set off for our dune buggy ride. Our buggy driver didn't seem to have any interest in talking to us, so he just strapped us in, put on our helmets, and handed us our goggles. As you can imagine, we looked especially cool today. After about 20 minutes of bumping around the dunes we got the chance to go sand boarding.

While planning the trip I'd read multiple blogs cautioning against sand boarding because of its high speeds--but it seemed that everyone had tried it anyway. It also seemed that most people gave sand boarding a shot by laying belly down on the board and going head first down the dune. Our guide tried explaining to Caryn how to lay on the board but we played up the ¨no hablo espanol¨ act, strapped our feet to the board, and headed downhill. It was SO much fun. Our guide wanted us to leave after a couple of rides but we were having no such thing. We kept telling him ¨uno mas! uno mas!¨ while handing him the camera and showing him how to videotape us. After realzing that walking back up the dune was not nearly as fun as riding down it, we called it quits and rode back to the hotel.

Our next stop was Huacachina, the oasis in the middle of the dunes. Our tour guide, who had the personality of chalk, told us about the myth of Huacachina and gave us a whopping 20 minutes to enjoy the lagoon. The water was pretty gross-looking so, instead of putting our feet in, we decided to rent a paddle boat for the majority of that time and float around.

We then got a ride to our hotel in Paracas, about an hour away. The previous day we told our tour guide in Lima that we´d be staying at the Double Tree and his jaw dropped. ¨Wow!¨he said, ¨the next time you travel you should invite me. That place is great!¨ His reaction set our expectations but we never imagined we'd find what we did. The hotel was sheer paradise. It had a minimalist Balinese-style decor complete with ocean view and four eternity pools. There is no way to describe it. There might have been 20 people staying there, of which we saw about four at a time. It was serene on its own but the sound of the calm ocean made it even more peaceful. I think we could have stayed there forever. The pictures don't do it justice--not even a little.

Once we got settled we took a walk along the bright green, kelp-covered shore and watched pelicans feed on small fish. We got back to the hotel just in time to watch the sunset. By then we were exhausted and just wanted to shower, eat, and go to sleep. The restaurant didn't open for another hour, though, so we killed some time and finally dragged ourselves to dinner. We were too tired to talk but when we realized the waitors were staring at us  from three feet away as we ate, we awkwardly looked at each other and found yet another thing to laugh about all night.

The day was blissful and so was our first full night of sleep.
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