Puking over the Nazca lines

My post title pretty much gives this one away, and I’m once again forced to report that my motion sickness got the best of me. I swear, this trip would be much easier if my body would just cooperate with what my mind would like to do!

It wasn’t quite as horrific or disgusting as it sounds. Thankfully, the only thing in my stomach was a small lemon-flavored candy our co-pilot had handed us just before we took off, so there wasn’t much to up-chuck. And, once it was out of my system, I felt much better, and could easily enjoy the rest of the flight.

Let me, however, start this story from the beginning.

On Saturday night, I was practicing my Spanish with a nice man who works at my hostel in Huacachina. Nicknamed “Tiger,” this gentleman seemed very nice and well informed, and told me he could easily organize my trip to fly over the Nazca lines. He told me that I’d have an hour long flight instead of the standard 20 minute one, that my taxi would come right to the hostel to pick me up, I could store my luggage at a hostel for the day during my flight/time in Nazca, and then hop on a bus to Arequipa that night. Marie, a sweet Danish girl also staying at the hostel, agreed to do the trip with me, so the two of us put down a 100 soles ($40) deposit, packed our bags and went to bed early, anticipating our 8 AM wake up call.

8:15 AM came, and we were still sitting, sleepy-eyed, on the couches. 8:30, still no sign of anybody. At 8:45, our stomachs started growling watching our bunkmates order delicious looking breakfasts at the bar. By 9:15, we’d half given up and ordered our own breakfasts, figuring that if the driver showed up at that point, he’d just have to wait for us to finish eating. At 10 AM, I started harassing Fernando, the only person working at the hostel that morning, to call my dear friend Tiger. When we finally reached him (there were many unanswered calls) an hour later, he said it was too windy in Nazca to fly that morning, he got delayed, he was sorry, but he could come pick me up and we’d go now. Frustrated, I said no, I’d rather go the next day instead, since I knew the lines were best viewed first thing in the morning.

I walked down the street to some travel agencies and began asking questions. Tiger was, to put it politely, full of it. And of course, as soon as Fernando, and the other guides I spoke with ¬†(in a town with 4 travel agencies and very few people, it seems everyone knows everything) found out Tiger had been a no-show that morning, they laughed and rolled their eyes. Turns out, he’s reliably unreliable.

That, and a liar. Flights took off yesterday without a hitch – the wind problem was completely falsified. And, flights don’t run for 60 minutes, they only go for 35, no more. Needless to say, I called him back and demanded a refund of my deposit and discount for my second, now necessary, night in the hostel since I was stuck in Huacachina for an extra day, no thanks to him.

Thankfully, even though I’d been up waiting for 3 hours, it was only 11 AM. So I had a relaxing day in the sun, laying by the hostel pool reading, booking a real Nazca flight tour with Marie and Feliz, and joining Rachel, Belinda and Filiz, other girls I’d met at the hostel, for some Pisco winery tours in the afternoon. We came back to relax for a bit and then had a delicious Italian meal next door before heading to bed.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but I will admit I wasn’t overwhelmingly wow-ed by the flight or the Nazca lines. And not just because of the puking. It was interesting, and I’m glad I did it, but I think the patterns would have been better appreciated had we had a guide who explained the history/theories of the designs. I think seeing the lines from up close, to comprehend how gigantic they really are, would have been helpful as well, since they look so small from so high up. That, and puking 2,000 feet above earth came at a high price: $110 USD for the flight, airport tax, 2 1/2 hour bus ride to Nazca, and taxis to/from our various hostels, bus stations and the airport. Not a cheap day, that’s for sure!

We were picked up in Huacachina at 7 AM, on the bus station in Ica by 7:45 AM, in Nazca by 10 AM, and at the airport by 10:45 AM. We were back on the ground and at our ‘hostel’ with our mochillas grandes¬†(aka our gigantic backpacks) by 11:30 AM, and our 12 hour, overnight bus to Arequipa wasn’t leaving for another 11 hours. So we grabbed a cheap local lunch, wandered a bit through the ‘city’ (there’s nothing to see), and then forked over another 25 soles ($10) to lay in the sun by a gorgeous pool at the singular posh – and expensive – hotel in town. Money well spent, since the $10 included a soda and sandwich, plus baggage storage and unlimited use of the pool, showers, wifi and electric outlets — so necessary for three girls with several dying electronics.

And now we’re sitting in a coffee shop trying to kill the evening — only an hour until we need to leave for the bus station. Marie is traveling north to Lima, and Filiz and I are off to Arequipa together. I’ve got two days to spend in Arequipa, and then I think I’ll do a 2 day Colca Canyon trek and afterwards, head into Bolivia. Cross your fingers it’s an uneventful 12 hours to Arequipa tonight!

My camera cord is buried deep in Dora somewhere and my laptop battery is dying, so no pictures tonight, but I’ll post some good ones of the lines/our group with the pilot later this week!

Cruising down sand dunes

The Peruvian dessert, especially south of Lima where I’ve spent the last two days, is truly spectacular. As I’ve been wandering and exploring and taking a million photos, I’ve been trying to come up with the right adjectives to describe it, and it’s been quite the challenge.

This may be one of those instances where photos, even though they don’t quite do everything justice, will have to be worth a thousand words instead.

In Paracas, I was shocked at the juxtaposition of a gorgeous, turquoise ocean and vast fields of hilly, goldenrod sand. In Huacachina, just an hour and a half south of Paracas, the sand dunes literally look like the opening scenes from Aladin — enormous hills with seemingly-sharp tops and edges; perfect, half-moon shaped mounds that are completely untouched, molded only by the wind. As you stand on the edge of gigantic dunes, there is not a single thing in sight but millions and millions of tiny grains of soft sand that stick to every surface of your body as soon as you take a single step.

Yesterday morning we took a two hour boat tour of the Isla Ballestas. The islands are protected and you can’t disembark on them, so the boats just drive around the rocky coasts and through the massive archways carved out by the oceans — close enough to the “shore” that you can practically touch the gorgeous birds and adorable sea lions basking in the sun. After the boat tour, we took a tour of the northern part of the Paracas National Reserve, where we saw more of the beautiful, sandy coastlines.

I was,¬†admittedly, relatively terrified to go sand-boarding today and I considered skipping it altogether, but I’m so glad I went because I actually had a complete blast. Our group was great and we had a ton of fun posing for photos and encouraging each other as we went tumbling – literally – down the dunes.

Clearly, I’m a pro.

Huacachino is a town based around a small lagoon in a massive dessert — it really is a stunning landscape, and I’m glad I made the last minute decision to stop here instead of going directly to Nazca. That, and my hostel here is great: tons of hammocks, a miniature pool, delicious food, and two adorable pugs.

And now, a million photos. Be thankful for these, they took ages to upload!