After the short bus ride from Paracas to Ica, we checked into our hostel for the night, Banana’s Adventure hostel in Huacachina. The music here was very loud and the wifi bad, but they had a really good restaurant and bar and all-around good vibe. After dinner (a quinoa burger…yum!), we crashed in bed.
Huacachina is the town next to Ica, and I wondered why we were staying here and not in Ica. However, I found my answer the next morning. I woke up and headed outside to the bar area for my morning coffee, and looked up to see we were surrounded by large sand dunes that I had not noticed as we drove in after sunset the night before. Huacachina is a literal desert oasis! After breakfast, Sarah and I decided to trek up the dunes a bit.
Later in the morning, we headed out to visit two local vineyards that have been operating since the early 19th century. As has become standard, Sarah and I started practicing our Spanish with our cab driver, who did not speak English. He asked me what I did. “Yo estudio en la universidad de Nueva York a ser una abogada,” I told him. His face lit up! He then told me he is a professor of political science at the university in Ica and showed me his ID (I am guessing he is a cab driver on the side!). He then handed me a copy of the Peruvian constitution to keep, and we discussed the parallels between it and the US constitution for the rest of the drive (in Spanish!) This is definitely one of my favorite souvenirs so far, and I look forward to keeping it with all of my other law books in the fall 🙂
The vineyards were interesting to visit, but I did not find the wines and piscos we sampled to be enjoyable. Most of the wines were too sweet for my taste, and the piscos were very, very strong! That being said, it was fun to sample them in the place where they are made and to learn something new.
After grabbing a bite to eat, we left around 4pm for a dune buggy excursion outside of Huacachina. This was my favorite part of our time in Peru so far! Our driver took us up and down some very steep dunes so fast that I felt my stomach drop a few times. It was like riding a rollercoaster! Then, we parked atop a few tall dunes and they pulled out the boards. Sarah and I were initially hesitant to try sand boarding, but we decided it looked too fun not to try! Plus, I found out I could sit on the board instead of trying to stand on it, so I was sold. Gliding down the dunes was so much fun! After boarding, we were able to sit and watch the beautiful sunset over the dunes. I keep finding so many moments of deep peacefulness on this trip and this was definitely one. It was so quiet on top of the dune, with the only sound being the wind as the sun dropped slowly out of sight.
After sunset, our buggy took us back to the hostel, where we enjoyed a pizza (my first since leaving the US!) and prepared to leave on the overnight bus. We left very early for the bus station (I am so careful ever since my incident in Saigon), and I proceeded to fall asleep in the bus station because I was so tired! Fortunately, Sarah woke me up when it was time to board! The overnight bus ride lasted 12 hours, and took us on some extremely curvy and steep roads. I surprisingly slept very well (similar to the Vietnamese sleeper train phenomenon) and woke up to this beautiful sunrise.
Our next stop is Arequipa for the next few days!