Everyone dies. Not everyone truly lives. -William Wallace "Braveheart"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Huacachina Oasis

When we woke up, got ready, had breakfast, and walked outside it was like we had stepped into paradise! Huge sand dunes surrounded this tropical oasis and all you could see was rolling hills of sand for miles and miles.  Mom and Al checked out of their hotel room, but we kept ours so we could all shower after sandboarding before we caught a bus back to Lima that evening.

We went for a dune buggy ride.  Actually, it's an injustice to call this a ride, I can't think of a word to describe what this was.  We thought catching a little air on a bumpy patch of sand would be the highlight of the trip, imagine our shock and shear terror when we crested the top of that first hill and were staring down 80 degrees into the valley of death.  You know those couple of seconds before the first drop on a roller coaster where the last thought that runs through your mind is "Oh shit! What possessed me to do this?" Well multiply that times 1,000,000 because at that point we didn't know if our driver was aware that certain death was lurking over the top of that hill.  We look over at him and he just smiled as we plummeted toward our sandy doom.  We were going so fast and at such a steep incline that I swear we weren't even touching the ground most of the way down! It was crazy! It was such a highlight of the trip that I told Alejandro I want to do it every time we go to Peru lol

After about 5 of these death drops the buggy stops and he tells us we are going to sandboard down this hill.  "Who wants to go first?" he asks.  I volunteer.  Why not? I've already cheated death 5 times today...what's one more? As I walk to the crest of the hill and look down I start having second thoughts.  But before I know it I am laying on my stomach on this board and the only thing between me and the drop is the guide kneeling in front of me.  He starts rattling off instructions very fast in Spanish and Alejandro is trying to relay them to me, but all I hear is "something, something, dig your feet in to slow down, something, something." "Wait" I say "I don't know about this, what was that part about..." "Don't worry, Don't worry, Not important" he says, and he swiftly steps away and I'm off.  I make it to the bottom victorious and completely denying my previous fear and instructing Mom, who is next, not to dig her feet into the sand and to just go down full blast! One by one the group comes flying down each exclaiming "THAT WAS AWESOME!" We went down a few more and then our guide took us to see another oasis that had dried up.  He said the said part is that the water is only a couple inches underground, but they don't have the money or resources to dig it up.  We make our way in the dune buggy back to the Huacachina Oasis.

I told you all you could see was sand :-)

Just to give you a little perspective of the steepness

We didn't have time to go back to the hotel to shower before our wine tasting tour at one of Peru's largest vineyards, Bodegas Vista Allegre, so Alejandro asked the owners of the small convenience store that gave us the dune buggy ride if we could rinse off in their not-so-private "showers" in the back.  After our very interesting wine and pisco tour and tasting we went to a smaller winery called El Catador.  It was interesting to see the difference in technique between the large winery and the small, local one.  I had a little too much alcohol for my new smaller stomach to handle and I got really sick at El Catador.  So sick that I ended up in the bathroom hugging the toilet

Next, we went to la casa de Rosalia (original Tejas inventor).  Tejas are a sweet delicious combination of manjar blanco, macadamia nuts, and a prune rolled into a log and dipped in white chocolate or rolled in fondant.  She is a celebrity in Peru and has pictures posted throughout her little shop with Miss America, famous soccer players, and even Pope John Paul II.  Rosalia has since passed away, but her daughter, pictured here, still carries on her mother's legacy.

After we grabbed a bite to eat for dinner I got my hair wrapped for $5.00 by a 23 year old girl from Uraguay who was backpacking through South America with her boyfriend. Other vagabonds were putting on a show nearby juggling fire, singing, dancing, and carrying on.  It was actually quite freezing at night.  I did not pack accordingly to be able to stay out too long in the cold.  So, after gritting my chattering teeth and baring it for my hair braid, I retired for the night to get some sleep before another busy day.

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