in the desert

Hello to my fantastic family and friends who read this from the desert of Peru! I am now in Ica province in Southern Peru! Last time I wrote was right before Christmas and I was in Huanchaco. Huanchaco turned out to be a lot of fun. I was in a really quiet hostel with only two other people…luckily they turned out to be awesome and I spent Xmass and the next few days with Sam and Matt from Australia. Christmas eve there were fireworks and loads of people in the plaza and horses and stuff. On Christmas day we ventured into the city (Trujillo) and went to probably the only restaurant open for a nice dinner. It was also nice to call home and talk to all my family.

One day we went to the Chan Chan ruins which is the old city of the Chimu people. It is right between Huanchaco and Trujillo. We went with a few other people we met a a burger shop on the beach in Huanchaco…they were awesome as well. The guides were really expensive so instead we bought the spanish pamphlet and I translated it as we went through. (yep I was pretty proud of myself). The ruins were surprisingly cool. As we were walking out in true backpacker style because we were too cheap for a taxi we saw another wall in a different part of the ruined city that had crumbled enough that we could climb in.. so of course we did. This part of the ruined city was clearly not restored and open to the public but was super awesome and we had a fun time climbing around (yep we climbed on ancient ruins!)

After saying my goodbyes I got on a bus back up North to Mancora. The bus ride was really long but I had one of the super cool front row seats on the second floor of the bus so I felt like I was driving but up above the road…does that make sense? We stopped in Chiclayo and Piura again, both city I sorta wish I had more time to explore but oh well. I arrived in Mancora early in the morning and when I got to my hostel my friends from Colombia that I made the reservation with were already there all asleep 🙂

The next 6 days in Mancora were crazy but a lot of fun. Peruvians from the big cities like Lima and Trujillo flcok to Mancora for New Years just like we were doing. Every bed in every hostel was full and people were paying full price to sleep on pool chairs. I’m not kidding. The beach was beautiful and the town is dusty and crowded but nice also. On the actual night of New Years Eve I am not sure I have ever seen somewhere so crowded in my life. The beach and every club, hostel, and bar were shoulder to shoulder people and half the beach was covered in tents as well. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of really nice people. Right after New Years I said goodbye to my friends and the lovely but loco time in Mancora and got on a reallllly long bus to Lima.

The bus to Lima was supposed to be 17 hours but whatever they tell you, you add about 2 hours to, so I was expecting 19. The reality was that it was 21 hours. No big deal, I was on the bus almost a whole day…I was super happy to get to Lima! The last hour or so of the pan americana highway before getting into the city is maybe one of the craziest roads in the world but its gorgeous. The road is on the edge of huge sand dune cliffs. The water below is clear blue and sparkling. There are a few boats and they look like ants. The buses cruise…it’s actually a little scary but so pretty it’s worth it.

In the city I stayed in the barrio of Lima called Barranco. My guide book describes it as the bohemian neighborhood. It was beautiful and right on the water. I was able to walk into Miraflores which is typically the neighborhood backpackers stay in. Miraflores is more upscale and also nice but I preferred Barranco. I took a bus into central Lima one day and walked around the old historical center. There are a lot of pretty churches and plazas and such. I really loved the city of Lima, it is absolutely enormous but really cool. One night I met up with Lesnie who is the daughter of a family friend back home in Portland. She was so sweet and took me to a restaurant where her cousin was working and then went to a salsateca with her boyfriend and cousin. They had a live salsa band that was awesome. We stayed all night.

The next day I took a short bus to Ica. Well it was supposed to be short but ended up taking a good 6 hours because of traffic in the desert due to the Dakur which is a huge rally. It was pretty cool to drive past and see all the four wheelers and dune buggies and stuff. I was super hungry though! I think the bus company felt bad about the serious delay because they served everyone food even though we weren’t in the first class seats. I opened the box of food and saw a pile of rice and a piece of chicken that no lie was the size of a ping pong ball. It looked really unappetizing but my vegetarianism went out the window and I ate it. When I got to Ica I took a taxi right to Hacachina just outside the city and got food with some people at the hostel.

Huacachina is a tiny tiny desert oasis with an adorable lagoon squeezed in between enormous sand dunes. The desert here is crazy! The largest sand dune in the world is here. I met some cool people in my hostel and rented a boat together to go cruise in the lagoon. It was hot but a lot of fun and afterwards we went swimming.

In the evening I went with a group in a dune buggy out into the desert to try sand boarding. The dune buggy alone was a serious adventure. It is like a roller coaster but better. Our buggy was small (8 people and a driver) and we crashed over sand dunes at crazy speeds. Sand boarding was way harder than I expected it to be but so great. After a few tries I got the hang of it a bit and could make it down standing. Then our guide took us to some dunes that he wouldn’t let us try standing because they were so big so we went down on our bellies laying on the boards face first…amazing. We watched the sun set over the desert before flying back into Huacachina.

I ran into someone I met in Mancora in my hostel and we went and found some veggie food for dinner and then climbed a sand dune to see the stars which was really nice. I love the desert it doesn’t feel like Peru though, I feel like I’m in Egypt or something…

Today I had the largest pancake I have ever seen in my life for breakfast and then after that things started to go wrong. I went to the one atm here and it was broken. I had to take a moto into the city and use the atm and then return to buy my bus ticket. Then I realized as I was packing up that I had left my atm card at the atm. I totally panicked and jumped in another moto to go back to the city. The whole way there all I could think was how much it was going to cost me to get another one from home overnighted to my next hostel. I was really mad at myself. At the bank they made me sit and wait for a long time. I was so anxious. The woman at the bank kept telling me; “wow you have a lot of piercings. I love them.” I was like, uhhh ya, I need my card! Finally the manager came with me out to the atm asked to see photo ID and then opened up the machine and there was my card! The machine conveniently eats it if you forget to take it. I actually gave her a hug I was so happy. I wasted money on many motos in and out of the city but at least I wouldnt have to buy a new card. Since I was in a much better mood I decided to walk around and see a bit of Ica which seemed like a nice little city.

Tonight I am off on an overnight bus to Arequipa! Time is flying by…this year is going to fast.. I hope you all had an amazing New Years! Miss and Love you all. Stay posted and also check my facebook for pictures if you want! (there are some cool ones of sand dune surfing and the desert) Besos.

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Author: maxineisland

Live Out Loud

3 thoughts on “in the desert”

  1. Hi Maxine,
    We really love your writing. You sure are having a lot of adventures that you’ll always remember. Even the atm card adventure won’t seem bad from a distance since you were able to handle it well and everything ended well. Your description of the sand dunes reminded us of flying over high red dunes in Nambibia in a hot air balloon. It will be great to see photos. Don’t forget to have someone take you picture in various places!
    Love, Grandmom and Grandpa

    1. Hey Grandmom and Grampa, Thank you 🙂 It’s been truly amazing even the hard parts haha dont worry I have a million picture and I am in some too, can’t wait to show you guys! Love to you too

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