Ica - Sandboarding

Trip Start Apr 05, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, May 20, 2010

My next stop is Ica, a vibrant town near the oasis of Huacachina, a tourist-paradise. 
Apparently in Ica there were barely any other gringo's (white people), which was nice, gives an off-the-beaten-path feel, while I do am following the popular touristy trail right now, while heading up (HIGH up!) to Cuzco. It was a cool and 'real' experience to be staying there instead of in Huacachina, where all the tourists are (which is a pretty oasis in the desert). 
I spent two nights here, and my host Ricardo was really nice. His mom told him she thinks I look like Britney Spears, haha, that's a firsttimer.
His friend Christopher was hosting someone else, Kevin, and yeah of course... another Belgian. I start thinking all the traveling Belgians are down here! He's a 19-year old boy from Liege/Luik, and loves Ica so was there already for 2 weeks. And he also dragged a ukulele along :) 

Ricardo's grandmother cooked for me, which was nice. Two meals! They eat so much here, amazing portions! I wasn't staying at his place though. He lived in with his grandma, who owns different houses in town and rents them out. One of the houses is near the center and on the top floor there's 1 empty room, where I could sleep. It was kind of odd cause really many people lived in this house so I always passed them. And it was pretty smelly and dirty... I guess it is life how it is? I can't be and am not expecting to have the luxury of the last night in Hostal San Isidro. But I did notice how I have to adapt my own values/norms again. Although honestly I think most people would agree this was pretty bad. I remember having a similar 'shock' in Cuba, where the circumstances were also very basic (although I don't care, but do about a lot of bugs/dirt...). I guess it's just a serious "click" I have to make in my mind. We're so lucky and spoiled in the Western world, that we don't even notice it, which is normal of course. You get used to your surroundings and don't observe it as an outsidder. Humans are amazingly adaptable.

Kevin and Ricardo showed me around, and took me in the evening to 2 wineries where the traditional Peruvian alcoholic drink Pisco was brewn. I got a professional tour and could try all the kinds. Way too many tiny small glasses, and on an empty stomach! I don't think I'll be drinking Pisco again any time soon ha! But right then it was nice. 
The one brewery offered a whole tour, and the other one a crazy 'museum' (see pictures) and nice outdoor bar.
But anyways, I wasn't drunk at all, it was only tiny shots, but my stomach really took it bad. I regularly don't drink much, and I think this might have burned the inner layer of my stomach a bit (which is my own, non-scientific explanation), so I was miserably sick all night. Not even getting better the next day cause I got also got sick from the food/water here. Miserable! Really. Suddenly the place I was staying at didn't matter at all anymore, only my own body did. 

The next day my host took me, being half a zombie, to the beautiful oasis of Huacachina. We chilled there, and by evening Christopher and Kevin joined, with a new CouchSurfer, Gabe from the USA. We all rented snowboards/sandboards for 3 soles (not even a euro), and walked up the giant sand hills. 
Which reminds me I didn't mention yet it's all desert here. Until now what I saw of Peru is soooo dry!!! I am longing for some green...
So there were giant sand dunes which made this place, Huacachina, famous for sand-boarding. I decided to play it safe and sit down on the board while sliding down, but man that thing went fast! As an automatic and very stupid reaction (aren't they often), I tried to slow down my putting my heels in the sand as a brake. Resulting in this GIANT pile of sand getting thrown all over me and my board ha! (Giant being an understatement) Couldn't open my eyes for 15 minutes. Haha, so if you ever sand-board, don't do what I did. :)

I went home to Ricardo's grandmothers place to shower, cause my place didn't have a shower, only a bin of water, and I was too full with sand. So I took a cold shower. Hot water is not an obvious fact at all here in Peru. And makes me realise it's kind of magical that it is, for us.
Ricardo also took me to the "witch" side of town, where this creepy palm tree grows, the tree with 7 heads, looked pretty monster-like!
In the streets there are a ton of dogs. They are really sweet, usually craving some attention. The weird thing is, they all look totally different, many of them being really pretty muds. Could pass for USA "designer-dogs" haha. I just don't really get it, they are all breeding with each other, how can they be looking so different? A genetical mystery to me. 
Ricardo's dog just had 5 puppy's, tiny, 2 weeks old. All female, which makes it hard to find people that want them cause female dogs automatically mean puppy's. There's dogs everywhere, and they walk around freely, also the ones with owners. It's fun to see, they cross the streets in little herds. 
Does kind of makes me wish I was a vet and could just sterilize some of them, like they do with stray cats in some areas in Belgium. Or even more, to make the sick ones suffer less. Poor things just laying at the side of the road.
I ended up having a great second night sleep, in my miserable room with the bed that was falling apart and looking very old and dirty (not to mention those walls... and no glass in the windows, which I liked actually, was like sleepign outdoors in a way, just crazy ton of noises of the street cause every vehicle honks every 2 meters... but Peruvian traffic deserves an own paragraph at least! 100% purs crazy chaos that works). 
Things really aren't as bad at all. I just need to adapt, again, I love it. This is traveling for me, challenging myself, observing my own reactions and feelings, which often are so automatic. Taking control. There's so much to learn all the time.
The next morning, I left with the bus to Nasca, and Gabe, the American CouchSurfer joined me. But more about that, in the next blog entry!
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Allyson on

Sounds like you're having fun! Get used to the cold water...I don't remember hot water anywhere we went...but it's kind of refreshing actually, and it forces you to be quick! Jealous you got to sandboard, I SO wanted to try that!

Amke on

Hej Marie-Line! Net je hele blog gelezen, en amai, wat klinkt dat allemaal boeiend :-) een serieuze reiskriebel om ook gewoon te vertrekken, dat hou ik eraan over! Geniet er nog ten volle van!

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