The Huacachina One

A fancy bus, where we had to ‘check in’ our luggage airport style, took us the four hours from Lima to Ica. To get there you go south down the panamerican highway, take a left after a few hours, go up in altitude approximately 400m and then boom you are in the town of Ica. A quick tuk-tuk style moto took us the final few kilometres to our destination- the desert oasis of Huacachina.

It truly is what it says on the tin. I didn’t know such a place existed. It is a genuine lagoon oasis surrounded on all sides by towering sand dunes. It really is rather impressive.

We stumbled into the first hotel we saw, as George is even less keen than I am on carrying a backpack any further than necessary. Although not cheap by Peruvian standards we realised we were in a captive market and that everywhere would be slightly overpriced. You can do that when you run a hotel/hostel in the middle of nowhere.

Fortunately the first hotel that we came to was ‘the’ original hotel in which wealthy Peruvians used to frequent back in the day, I’m not entirely sure when that day was, I’m guessing around the 1920’s. The Hotel Mossone was definitely past it’s heyday, the paint was peeling off the walls, the bathroom was old and tatty and there was a distinct air of a fall from grace about the place but luckily George and I have fairly low standards so it suited us fine.

We spent the afternoon by the pool, reading our books but our pale skin could only take so much sun so we went for a stroll around the lagoon later in the afternoon. There we watched holidaying Peruvian children jumping in and out of the stinking, standing water. I sat there imagining all sorts of germs within, hoping those children weren’t going to come down with dysentery or whatever bugs lurk within a standing desert oasis.

As the late afternoon created shade on the dunes foolish people were walking up the now cool sand with boards so they could slide back down. Others were taking dune buggies up. Either on a tour of the dunes or to be dropped of at the top so they could slide down. We didn’t witness much sliding down, although there was plenty of falling. From experience snowboarding I know that when you fall you often get a face full of snow, up the nose and in the mouth. At least snow melts quickly when in contact with your body. I imagine sand up your nose and in your mouth is rather an unpleasant experience. Hence, why George and I stayed sensibly away from the dunes and the stinking water and filled ourselves with delicious Peruvian food and wine. Perfect.

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