Big City and Even Bigger Sand Dunes

Trip Start Mar 18, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

After the easy pace of mountain life, rocking up at night in Lima was a shock to the system. As big cities go, Lima is....a big city. Ten million people (many of them very poor) living at a frantic pace and all the creature comforts that people in Northern Peru havenīt even dreamed of yet. We stayed in the trendy and safe barrio of Miraflores and indulged in nice restaurants, Starbucks Coffee (never thought we would consider that a positive), an air hockey championship in a games parlour and the new Indiana Jones movie in English, with Spanish subtitles! All of this inside the three story Larco Mar shopping centre, built into the side of the cliff face in Miraflores. We also went paragliding off the cliffs, which was all going really well until the wind died. PT made it back to the cliff top but Alycia and her tandem partner ran out of puff and were forced to land on the beach and take a taxi back up.  

We took in a little history in Lima too. We came across an impressive exhibition of pre-Columbian artifacts from Northern Peru. When we visited various museums and ruins in Northern Peru the previous month, we were disappointed to find many of the items were īreplicasī, so there was a sense of irony to come across the real items showcased in Lima. The gaps in our cultural awareness had been filled!  We also visited Huaca Pucallpa, a temple lived in by some of the original inhabitants of Lima, which spreads over two acres in the heart of Miraflores. Itīs quite a strange thing to stand on top of a temple that is hundreds of years old and gaze out on a metropolis at the surrounding office blocks, McDonalds restaurants and shopping centres.

We split Lima after two days and headed south to Huacachina, near the town of Ica which was devastated by a huge earthquake last year. Ica still looks to be buried in the rubble from that catastrophe but the little oasis of Huacachina remains in tact. It is definately one of the strangest places we have come across. Situated in the middle of towering sand dunes that stretch for miles in any direction, Huacachina consists of a series of fancy but old buildings surrounding a smelly lagoon. Apparently in its heyday it was a place where the rich and famous of Peru travelled for vacations, but now it serves as a base for sand boarding and dune buggy tours (actually that is all there is to do there).

Our sand boarding/dune buggy excursion was a really fun trip. The dune buggy went racing up and down the dunes at a fair speed, until we were at the top of a series of dunes fit for sand boarding. Thinking it would be like snow boarding, PT strapped into his board and rode in a straight line to the bottom, where the sand flattened out and turned as hard as concrete and the sand board came to an abrupt halt. There were worried moments after PTīs hip took the brunt of the crash and despite not being able to walk properly for the next couple of days, weīre fairly certain that there is no major damage. Most people reverted to lying down on the boards and the final few dunes were so huge that we almost backed out of flying down them with our faces just inches from the sand.

Next morning we caught the local bus to Nazca, two hours from Ica....if your bus doesnīt break down in the middle of the desert and out of phone range. We made it to Nazca late in the afternoon, on the replacement bus full of two loads of passengers, because another bus from the same company had broken down on the same stretch of road. In Nazca we boarded a six-seat Cessna and went on a half hour flight over the Nazca Lines, which are a series of mysterious figures and geometric lines carved into the floor of the desert rock. They were first discovered in the 1920īs but nobody is sure how they got there and what they represent.

After a pretty full day and a busy week of travel, we hopped on the overnight bus for the long trip to Arequipa in Southern Peru, where we hope to explore the deepest canyons in the world.
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johnnoonan on

How's the hip man??
Hi guys,
Liz & I just had fun with going through ALL the photos again from day 1 - in a slideshow format. The blog is just great PT, it really is like we are on the trip with you - just fabulous, we are very grateful to be receiving this stuff!!
Well...........CHAMP.......... that bit about the 'snow-boarding' down the dunes was a wake-up call man, like we know you are fit and hip buddy - but being 20000miles from OZ (at least), and busted up in some bad-lands back-woods excuse for a hospital is NOT cool ol' that?
Whew, gave us a heart start man, just be careful - you only have like - 9 MONTHS to go on this adventure.
So........still have a great time, but do take care - hear from you both soon 'Fuzzy-Bear' (Leesh - you look GREAT by the way!)
John & Liz

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