Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Huacachina, Peru

While in Patagonia, we learned about sandboarding in Peru and made sure to work Huacachina into our itinerary. It´s a small town on a small lake nestled in very large sand dunes just outside Ica, Peru... and it's famous in South America for sandboarding.




The buggy ride to the dunes is worth it alone. Our driver was not at all afraid to come within inches of steep cliffs or go down the dunes at high speeds. We never knew what was coming next. It was really fun and beautiful too!



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At first, going down can be a little intimidating because the dunes are so high and steep (the dune below was the first, and by far the smallest). But we quickly realized that with sand always collecting under the board, it takes a lot of speed to keep going.


Like in snowboarding, you spend a lot of time falling down before you really start having fun:


The mid-day heat started getting to Pascale so she did what any professional would do...



Just when we started to get the hang of it, it was already time to go back. Determined to conquer the dunes, we spent the afternoon practicing our skills behind the hostel.


It was good practice but not as fun without the buggy there to pick us up:



Waxing the board with a candle:




On our second round, we returned fearless and begging for more. We also realized that going face first is much faster and easier. This changed everything. Pascale will give us a quick demonstration:


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It was also much cooler in the afternoon, and we got to see the sun go down behind the dunes.



We watched the sunset from this cliff´s edge, anxious to go again once the sun had dropped:






Again, it was time to leave way too soon.... but our sandboarding days are far from over.


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If the secret to delicious food is cooking topless, then Aldo has it right. Our hostel had his little restaurant attached and out of this small, dark kitchen emerged some pretty amazing Peruvian dishes for only about 4 dollars per plate, which we shared. Here´s Aldo.... he was super nice:

A side note: The water bag you see hanging in the doorway is to keep flies away.... they say the fly sees its magnified reflection in the water and gets scared away. Many in latin america swear by it, including Aldo. He said he used laugh at the theory until it cleared out the swarms of flies in his kitchen.

This is Aldo´s assistant. We don't know how they found each other, but they're a perfect match. He lets her help out at his restaurant because like many in Ica, she lost work after the earthquake in Peru last year.

Another man working at our hostel walked with a cane because he said a wall collapsed on his foot during the earthquake. It´s pretty sad:

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/08/16/peru.earthquake/index.html

If the bird on the left looks wet, it´s because Pascale had just rescued it from drowning. A lady dropped the parrot's cage near the hostel's pool, and it rolled right into the murky water. Within seconds of witnessing this, Pascale leapt to action and heroically dove in after the caged parrot while the lady was still calling for help. Without her jumping in the pool fully dressed with her documents, passport and money still on her, the beautiful bird would most certainly not have survived.... luckily, her passport and documents recovered too.

As if saving parrots weren´t enough, Pascale made dear friends with this little monkey back at the hostel.... after he looked everywhere on her for food:













After some snacks and quality time with Pascale, the little guy got very attached, literally. The staff really had to come pry him off her so she could leave, and he whimpered and cried the whole time. It was really sad and didn't make it any easier for Pascale (who had gotten rather attached herself).








More photos: share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=8QcN2TFq0bM9m

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