Animal sightings, unbelievable sand dunes and the friendly people of Lima
05.10.2009 - 09.10.2009 20 °C
We boarded a fabulous night bus that rivaled first class on a plane with lazy boy reclining chairs, headphones, movies, music, snack and coffee service on the bus and in the departure lounge. Even upon arriving at the station there were porters to take our bags and check them in, I was rather paranoid as no other station had this service, I followed them closely reading there name tags.
The trip was very comfortable and if I had to ride a bus for 20 hours it would only be with this company. While aboard we met a lovely lady who invited us to her home after our trip to the poor man's Galapagos Islands, it is called Isla Ballestas. I think we will take Chame up on that invite as she has three kids of similar age to Ariel and Jordan.
Once we got off the bus we needed to change bus company and in doing so we met another couple of delightful Lima citizens who made sure we were on the right bus, that we understood the dangers of traveling through Peru and I think one of these abuelas (grandmothers) even interrogated the bus driver to make sure he knew where to drop us off and to protect our luggage. As it turned out Gloria was a lawyer and I suspect she struck fear into the bus driver and his assistant. I hope we see her in Lima as she made us promise to call and let her know we were OK in our travels.
Our destination was Pizco, a city which had been flattened by earthquake numerous times. But the most recent and possibly most devastating was three years ago. No road was paved, no street without construction, no building undamaged above one story.
Although unattractive from a tourist stand point it was a good educational experience. I am realizing that the food is not cheap in Peru and this concerns me. Hopefully it’s only in this region with it's fresh and delectable seafood.
The boat tour to Islas Ballestas was really interesting featuring many types of birds only found in this region I believe one of them is the white footed booby. We also watched Humbolt Penguins, seals, sea lions, many pelicans, cormorants, etc. This island is also an important economic producer of guano, bird poop, used as fertilizer.
Afterwards we took a bus tour to Paracas National Park on the coast. Beautiful sandstone cliffs rise up from the Pacific and become the desert landscape of this region.
We later board a bus with a nice young man from India who is also backpacking in the same direction.
We arrive in the oasis town of Huacachina near Ica. It is, literally, an oasis with a tropical lagoon lined with palms and water vegetation, chirping resident birds and surrounded by mountains of grand sand dunes. If I didn’t know it I would have imagined myself in North Africa with this scenery. The town is a, clean, quaint tourism outpost with hostels, restaurants and gift shops and ohhh what fun it is to run up the dunes. During our short stay we sand boarded and rode dune buggies through the dessert.
Back to Lima and as promised we call all our new friends. During the next few days I am suppose to be shopping for supplies as we have a monstrous 5 day trek in the cool Andes. Every type of weather is expected and I don't want to disappoint Chris by being unprepared for one of the seasons.
Meeting with Peruvian friends is not a short encounter it's an all day event. Whenever you think they are heading home it turns into another hour of two.
But we really enjoy our time with all these nice ladies and their families. At the eleventh hour I manage, with the help of the ladies, to gear up and as they bargained on our behalf and we don't spend too much money.
In Peru, the price is not always the price, there is a constant cash grab from tourists and it's really irritating. Hostels promise free rides to airports but there is always the fine print. Included meals are really small snacks, added charges pop up as you pay your bill, negotiated prices are higher than you bargained.