Days 23 - 27: Arequipa to Huacachina
Trip Start Oct 15, 2013
24Trip End Ongoing
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Life is never dull with public transportation in Peru. Our bus from Cabanaconde to Arequipa left at 6:30am but this time we were prepared. We had an early breakfast and then got to the bus early. I waited to store our bags under the bus while Rach ran on and saved us two seats. We got to sit for the whole drive which was made a little longer when the bus broke down. None of the locals seemed fazed as the driver got off and grabbed his tool kit so he could go to work on the engine. One man sitting close gave us a smile and a thumbs up which made us think this wasn't a rare thing. Sure enough 40 minutes later we were back on the road and it was smooth sailing until the door to the luggage compartment flew up and broke a window as a woman tried to get her things off at her stop. The bus driver didn't even take a minute to go look at it he just kept driving. We drove the last 2 hours with the glass pieces slowly falling into the bus spilling everywhere and no one seeming to care
We got into Arequipa without a hostel to go to or really any idea about where to find a good one as we only learned after we got to Cabanaconde that there was no internet access in town. Our only lead was a hostel that someone recommended during one of our hikes, but it turned out that our Lonely Planet book had the address wrong. Everything worked out as we stumbled across a place that didn't look great from the outside and probably would have avoided from the reviews but it was clean, cheap, and really close to the centre of town. We walked the city for the rest of the night and grabbed some Moroccan food at this restaurant with good reviews. We tried the beef tagine and the falafel. At the end of the first day we both loved Arequipa, which is good since we will be spending a full month there volunteering. It is the most modern city we have been in yet and has the most beautiful town square we have seen too, complete with a view of three volcanoes.
We started off the morning visiting this cafe with good reviews to grab a coffee and empanadas. We normally wouldn't check reviews for coffee places but we were finding cafes giving you a cup of hot water with a packet of instant coffee was becoming a common trend and we couldn't stomach it anymore.
After breakfast we did a walking tour of Arequipa and learned a lot about where to find what and the city's history
Our bus left at 9:30pm for the 12 hour drive to Huacachina and we both thought we wouldn't get any sleep at all. Luckily we were wrong. With seats that reclined almost flat, pillows, and blankets it was a lot more comfortable than most flights and we both slept until we arrived to a sunny 30 degree day.
Huacachina is a tiny tourist town built around a small desert oasis inside the wine and pisco country of Ica. It is a beautiful place, but you can walk around the lagoon in about 6 minutes so that doesn't leave a lot of options for activities besides relaxing and sandboarding in the dunes.
Sandboarding was a lot of fun, especially when you include the dune buggy ride out into the desert
That night we went across the street to this lady's restaurant which caught Rach's eye because they serve thai food. We both got red curry which was one of the best meals we've had yet. The lady was a Brit who did an around the world in a year trip to find a place to open a restaurant. From the menu it looked like a lot of her recipes must have been picked up from her travels. She had her two young daughters there chasing her around while she served all of the tables and chatted away to customers.
We spent the morning hanging by the pool at our hostel. Our hostel called "Bananas" was recommended to us by a few different people we met during our travels. It has a pool located by a large tiki bar which serves burgers all day and pumps out loud music.
That day we both started to feel the effects from the food poisoning but both shrugged it off to go on a wine tour we previously signed for with a brit we met which went to three wineries and included tastings
Today was mostly spent in bed with the food poisoning.