After hopping on the overnight bus in Cuzco heading southwest towards Nazca, we popped our sleeping pills, watched some American movies dubbed in Spanish, and fell asleep. This was hands-down the most winding bus ride I have ever been on. I was super nauseous before falling asleep. I can remember waking up in the middle of the night and the bus being stopped, but I fell back asleep thinking nothing of it.
I woke up with the sunrise, wondering where we were. The attendant came down eventually with some bread and cheese for breakfast, yum! It turns down the bus had engine problems in the middle of the night, prolonging the ride from 14 hours to 19. oh my god. That is the longest I have ever spent on a bus, and hopefully the last. Once we left the mountains, we entered a completely different terrain that looked more like the desert and just as winding. There were more mountains and valleys that made the ride pretty scary.
We drove through some nature reserve that had a lot of animals running around that looked like a cross between a gazelle, a deer, and a llama, called a vicuña. Occasionally we could hear the bus driver honking at them to get out of the road.
View from the bus heading towards Nazca
We finally arrived in Nazca, and we were so relieved to get off the bus! It was so hot and dry, it felt great after the cool rains in Cuzco. After getting our backpacks, we were going to head over to one of the flight companies to take a plane over the famous Nazca lines in the desert.
Unfortunately, it turned out that there were no planes flying over the lines because of an accident a few weeks before that killed a couple of Chilean tourists. It turned out the government intervened and were inspecting all of the companies to make sure the planes were up to safety standards, thus closing down all the flights. Fantastic! And in typical Peruvian fashion, they failed to announce this fact ANYWHERE!!!
So incredibly annoying! First Machu Picchu, now the Nazca lines. So after arguing with some random tourist info guy in the bus station for twenty minutes, we decided to grab lunch and then catch a local bus to Ica, a town a couple hours north from where we could catch a cab to Huacachina, a little desert oasis famous for its dunes and sandboarding.
After hanging out for a few hours in the back of a bus filled with locals, we eventually arrived in Ica, where we caught a cab to Huacachina. We took it to a hostel that a few people had recommended to us that turned out to still have space. We walked into the center of town during siesta to grab some chips and juice before heading back to the hostel to catch the buggy that would take a bunch of tourists up into the dunes for a few hours to sandboard.
Luckily, or unluckily – depending on how you look at it – we got seats in the very front of the buggy. Our driver, a misogynist pig, was absolutely crazy! I couldn’t believe some of the dunes we would go over! It was sometimes scary but overall pretty amazing! We went so fast, sometimes got air, and I definitely got sand in places I didn’t even know existed, especially in my camera. oops. but totally worth it!
We drove all over the dunes before arriving at a set of three hills where we would practice. Everyone went down first on their stomachs on the boards before trying to go down standing. It was really hard, at least for me! It was so hard to stay standing, and once falling on your butt, it was hard to stand up again, especially because it was so slow on the sand. But it was still worth it and great fun.
We ended up going down some really steep hills on our stomachs before heading back to the buggy. I also didn’t realize what jerks Peruvian men can be! I overheard the buggy drivers talking in Spanish about the girls, including me, as we walked back from the last dune ride. I guess they didn’t expect blond little me to understand them, let alone yell at them. It was pretty funny to see their faces when I said something back at them in my best colloquial Spanish. What jerks!
We drove around the dunes for a while before stopping to enjoy the sunset. It was beautiful watching it set over the dunes. We then headed back to the hostel to try to shower all the sand off of us. I was still washing sand out of my ears two days later! Seeing the dunes was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip! After going out to a yummy dinner, we hung out by the bar with some americans studying abroad and some other guys at bar at the hostel.
The next morning we got up, ate breakfast, and hung out by the pool at the hostel for most of the day. There are some parrots that were just wandering around the back of the hostel. They even let us hold them! We met a really cool dutch couple living in Peru for the year, and talked to them for a while before heading into town for some lunch.
Backyard of our hostel in Huacachina
We then caught another local bus heading towards Lima for our last night in Peru! Qué triste! We took a cab to the hostel we stayed at the first night there in Miraflores, but they didn’t have any space, so we eventually found another place close by that was really nice! We went there, dropped our stuff off and got changed and went out to look for food. After getting dinner at a nice, crowded street smack in the middle of the party area, we went into a discoteca for a bit. The next morning we got up, had breakfast on the roof of the hostel before heading out into Lima for our last day.
We walked down to the coast for a bit, had some coffee, then decided to catch a cab into the center of the city to visit the monasterio de san francisco. Completed in 1774, it is a major tourist site in the city, especially because they will take you on a tour into the catacombs beneath the basilica, where you can see the millions of bones of people piled up. Even going into the catacombs in Europe, I had never seen the bones of the deceased stacked up like they were there. There was also a man selling handmade woven textiles inside the church of typical Peruvian images that we were able to purchase very cheaply. It was really fascinating to watch him weave them himself on his loom.
Monasterio de San Francisco in Lima with an armored government truck
We then headed back into Miraflores to continue our search for stamps to send all of the postcards we had written. I figured that you could buy stamps at other places besides the post office, but it turns out you can’t. Being a Sunday, we couldn’t find stamps anywhere. Luckily, the hostel was really great and we left them enough cash for stamps and all our postcards that they promised to mail for us. Hopefully they actually did it….
After returning to miraflores, we walked around for a while before grabbing dinner at a very nice restaurant on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Since Lima is famous for its seafood, we decided we had to try ceviche. Ceviche is a famous dish in South America, especially in Peru, consisting of raw fish marinated in citrus juices. It was especially delicious here. We finished dinner just in time to watch the sunset over the ocean, a beautiful lasting image of Peru and a wonderful end to a great trip.