Dodgy sandboards and wine tours

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Our bus trip to Nazca wasn't the smoothest of trips so far. I’m not going to say that it’s Lucy and Donnchadh’s fault, but given that so far on their trip they have had a 48 hour road trip following a mid-flight diversion en-route to Bariloche when the Chilean volcano went off and then suspected e-coli or salmonella in Bolivia which involved iv drips in their hotel room, their travels so far have been a little more unlucky than ours. Anyway, we were promised dinner on our bus which meant we didn’t bother eating beforehand. But when we were only given a pack of crackers each and then the lights turned out when the bus got going it wasn’t looking good. The next morning after a cold nights sleep for me and Liz, and an overly hot one for Donnchadh (we were on different floors of the bus) we pulled in to Nazca and after a schpiel of Spanish from the bus attendant worked out we hadn’t been lied to and there had been some issue with food. We would all now be getting breakfast for free. A breakfast of lomo saltado that is. Now, me and Donnchadh are big fans of this Peruvian speciality, basically a big stir fry of beef, onion, chips and tomatoes with rice, but it’s definitely an odd choice for breakfast. Hungry as we were we all wolfed it down and even stared longingly at the plates some of the other tourists were leaving behind.

The only reason to come to Nazca is the Nazca lines and to be honest we were really only here because of me. Donnchadh had been before and wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about them, and Liz and Lucy were pretty boved. I felt that if we were in the area I couldn’t really not go. The best way to see them is to fly over in a small aircraft but price and non-interest meant we didn’t go for that option and instead jumped on a local bus with all our gear and headed 20km north to the mirador. I’m not really sure what I was expecting but the rusty iron tower across the road when we got off the bus wasn’t it. "Seriously?" Liz and Lucy chimed. “I told you” Donnchadh replied. The next bus heading north to Ica wasn’t due for an hour so we climbed the steps and got our first view of the lines. “Wow!” was not what Liz said. More like, “They’re drawings?!? I thought they were natural lines that looked like things. So glad we didn’t pay for a flight to see this!” I thought they were pretty cool and even though we could only see 2 of them from not a great angle I was a little disappointed we hadn’t taken the flight. Back down we went to sit in the dust waiting for the next bus.

We arrived in Ica a couple of hours later and got straight in a taxi to nearby Huacachina. Huacachina is surrounded by massive sand dunes and the plan was to go out in a buggy the next day.  Ica is also the biggest wine region in Peru so we planned on doing a wine tour, and once we checked into a hotel with a pool in the sunshine Lucy in particular planned to lie around that.  Well, we were up late the next day as usual and didn’t get breakfast until 11am.  Donn and Lucy’s 'luck’ prevailed and there was no sun, and we decided that the buggies didn’t look that exciting as they were too big to go really crazy in! Instead we hopped in a taxi for a personal wine tour.  This was also not overly successful although entertaining and enjoyable nonetheless.  The first place we arrived to at 2pm, was playing loud music and had a load of drunk teenagers dancing gratuitously on a dance floor! Not like wine tasting in Australia!  The guy who owned the place was also hammered and stared intently at one of us each time he talked, I think to avoid falling over.  We were pretty proud of ourselves for understanding the mumbling Spanish enough to work out the types of wines and how long they are stored for etc.  The wine itself was foul and Lucy especially kept throwing it on the floor! I was a little worried what he was actually giving us because he appeared to be opening barrels at random and making is drink the contents! It was mostly dessert type wine so not my thing and we decided just to tip the guy and get out of there. The next place was another small winery and although the wine was just as horrible, save for the pineapple one Donnchadh bought (?!), the tour was organised, the guy was really nice, and we got to see the ‘machinery’ for the whole process.  Wish we were here in February so we could get involved in tramping the grapes!! Finally we went to an industrial place that looked like wineries we had been to elsewhere.  However this was probably the biggest disappointment.  The wine wasn’t good, and the tour wasn't entertaining either - the guy really couldn't be bothered.  It was a fun afternoon, but I was a little disappointed we didn’t come home with some fantastic wines. 

When we got back instead of going buggying we decided the walk up the dunes.  Kevin and Lucy wanted to try out the sandboarding and opted for the cheap option which is basically a piece of plywood with Velcro straps for your feet.  It was tough work walking up the dune….think 3 steps forward 2 steps back..but we made it eventually and got a great view over Huacachina, the mountains to the south and the dunes continuing into the north.  Kevin had first go at the sandboard, which wasn’t very successful.  Sand causes a lot more friction than snow and you need wax to make the board slippery enough to move.  The guy in the hostel gave Kevin a candle to rub on the board.  Not the right form of wax me thinks.  Anyway he set off, stopped, waxed, set off, and then rolled sideways down the hill for a bit.  When we made it back up the hill he told us the board was broken.  Not because it wouldn’t work but he’d actually cracked it. That was that! We then walked up to the highest point with the intention of watching the sunset but realised we would have to sit there for about 3 hours so instead took some silly photos and headed back down.  Donnchadh had the great idea of Lucy sitting on the board the whole way down.  Just before she left he said if it feels dangerous bail off.  Not sure she was too impressed with that, and sure enough the thing got up speed instantly, she fell off to the side, let go of the board and then we all watched the board hurtle down the hill! I thought it was going to make it all the way into the road and cause a crash but luckily it stopped as soon as it hit the trees!!

That night myself (Kevin) and Dunka left the boring girls behind and went to hit the Huacachina happy hours. Plenty of pisco sours, f*cking Huacachinas (it’s a cocktail) and waffle talk later we stumbled back to the bedrooms to wake and annoy the girls. Unfortunately in the half awake hung-over pack I think I left my camera in one of the bedrooms we had. Pretty annoyed at myself but thankfully there weren’t too many photos we hadn’t backed up. First real loss of the trip so can’t complain too much. Next stop, Lima.
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