New Year, New Country!
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A Long Travel Day
New Years Day began and we packed up and headed off to the bus station. We hadn’t pre-booked tickets for Guayaquil, assuming we wouldn’t need to but as we showed up at the terminal to find barricades erected to organize the lines and a security guard assigned to direct those waiting to buy tickets to Guayaquil, we had a slight panic.
As it happens, buses leave frequently enough that we needn’t have worried and we were on our way soon enough. After all that of course we find out that our flight is delayed by two hours! Five hours at the airport, two hour flight, five hours at Lima airport before we finally saw our visitors walk out of arrivals at 3am.
From here it was straight to the next bus station to find a bus to take us to Ica! Being a group of six, we had to wait a few hours for the next available bus with that many seats so after another three hours of waiting, we were on our four and a half hour bus.
One more short taxi ride and we had made it to our first destination in Peru, Huacachina, almost exactly 24 hours after leaving Salinas!
Huacachina, A Desert Oasis
Surrounded by high sand dunes, Huacachina is quite literally an oasis in the middle of a desert. We had two main tours planned here – the dune buggy and sand boarding trip, and a boat tour to Islas Ballestas.
Our tour began with our driver getting stuck on the way up the dunes, having to reverse to the bottom in order to try again, and my mother deciding she didn’t like it and asking to get out! As we raced around and over the dunes, my dad, sister and nephew alternated between swearing, closing their eyes and deep breathing, and crying! You can decide who was doing what…
After a while we stopped at the top of a very high, steep dune and our driver proceeded to get out the boards. Most people had a turn at trying their luck on a smaller side hill before Terry headed off down the big one. The boards are practically impossible to control so we found it much harder than expected! The tour ends just outside of town where you can watch the sun set over the hills.
This group of islands off the coast of Paracas is often referred to as poor man’s Galapagos so I knew we were going to have to make this trip. An hour bus ride took us to the speedboat and, after paying two separate entry fees, we were on our way.
Despite having just left the Galapagos, it was a great trip. There were plenty of sea lions some of which we were able to get pretty close to, and thousands of birds! Boobies and cormorants were the highlights. This is also a habitat for penguins and we did have a very brief sighting of a few before they ducked into a cave.
Our hostel had a few boards available to use so we grabbed a couple and headed up the sand dunes on our own. Everyone was much happier without the dune buggy! Races, wipe outs and plenty of laughs made for a fun time. Ethan seemed to be just the right weight for the tricky boards and would take off down the hills at great speed. At one point Dad had to clothesline him to stop him from flying over a ridge and into the lake!
After two nights, we hopped back on the bus and returned to Lima where we have rented a three bedroom apartment in Barranco. This is supposed to be the bohemian district and we are loving the neighbourhood. Colonial buildings, park space and lots of activity make for interesting adventures every day.
Vicki is only with us for this week so we’re trying to see the highlights with her. Our first day we headed off on the MetroBus for Miraflores. The system is very easy to figure out but it is incredibly cramped. Not the end of the world for most of us, but when you’re eye height with most people’s crotches, it becomes slightly less enjoyable!
Our first stop was Huaca Pucllana, ancient ruins in the middle of town. These pre-Incan ruins date back to 500-700AD and are made with mud bricks. They are definitely not the most impressive ruins we have ever visited, (and not a highlight for the 7 year old), but if you have the time and are interested in history then they are worth the time.
From here we wandered the streets until we reached Kennedy Park. This is a hub of activity and a great place for a lunch stop. The park is also home to a large population of stray cats so it was a good spot for our group of animal lovers.
The park didn’t provide us with any space for soccer so we continued on to the coast. The beaches are rocky but filled with people, and plenty of surfers. After some soccer time, we walked along the coastal road until heading up the stairs into Barranco and home for dinner.
Beaches and Birthdays
Terry’s birthday was spent at the beach. We found a spot by one of the soccer pitches and Terry continued along in search of a surfboard rental. The waters are a little chilly in Peru thanks to the Humboldt current so all rentals include a wetsuit. It didn’t take him long to be in the water and paddling off into the distance. Unfortunately, the waves took a break for the day and he gave up after an hour or so. Still we managed to have a family soccer match. The boys say they won but the game is under protest.
We still have a little more than a week left in Lima so we have plenty more to discover!
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