This week we had our last group trip. We visited Ica, a southern region in Peru of sand, sea, and oasis. It was about a four and a half hour bus ride. We all stayed at Hotel Las Dunas, which is where I spent most of my time. We arrived Sunday afternoon and stayed until Tuesday afternoon. Being a group of 20 students, it always takes longer than needed to make any decisions, so Ashley, Jessica, and I left the group to get started on activities; we wanted to be sure we could get through everything in the time allotted.
After our free lemonade, more like squeezed lime and no sugar, we headed towards the horses. I’ve never been on a horse before so I was a bit freaked out. The guide went around and asked each of us if we’ve ridden before and when he got to me I lied and said yes. I know, horrible! But I couldn’t say no and miss out on riding horses among the sand dunes of the desert. My horse was named Tornado. All the horses followed the guide and his horse so I was pretty certain my horse wouldn’t buck me off. When we hit the sand dunes, my horse out of nowhere just shot off and I was terrified. Luckily the guide told us how to take control and slow them down. I tightly pulled on the reins and yelled no; it worked. Once I got the hang of it, we started running but not too fast. The feeling was incredible. Hair blowing in the wind, sun hitting the sand dunes so perfectly, the little bounce as the horse galloped; so beautiful. He was so stubborn compared to the other horses, which is probably why they call him Tornado. We rode for an hour and my arm has never been so sore; I held the reins so tight the entire time and when I got off the horse, it was as if I didn’t know how to walk. It was so worth it though.
We then decided to ride the sand buggies, also a first for me. As we signed up the lady told us they had a spot open right there and then so we took advantage. I understood that we would be the ones driving our own carts but we actually had a driver. Thank jesus for that because I would have had no control in the sand dunes. It was kind of like a roller coaster ride only you don’t ever see the drop. If I wouldn’t have worn a seatbelt, I would have died. Okay, maybe not died but it was intense. The activity was 45 minutes long and for 15 minutes we were allowed to sandboard. It’s exactly like snowboarding but no snow. We went down a smaller hill first, sitting down of course. The climb up was horrid. Then we tried a much steeper hill the second round. I’d like to tell people I stood up but I decided to play it safe and sit.
We got back to the resort and decided to relax in the pool. It rained while we were riding the sand buggies so we were full of sand, but we didn’t care. After that, I cleaned up, worked on homework, and called it a day.
Monday came and we were up early to get on the bus for Paracas to visit the Ballestas Islands. I’m pretty sure it was my first time on any type of boat. I’ve never seen water so blue, seagulls so huge; seagulls in general for that matter. It was a sight worth seeing. There were so many sea lions, penguins, but more than anything, birds. I’ve never seen so many birds, ever! The smell was quite disgusting but I forced my attention to picture taking. The islands weren’t very huge and by the end of it, I was so ready to leave. The driver would start the motor and I would be so excited, but then it would shut down and I was in sorrow. The waves rocking the boat, mixed with the smell and heat made a few of us want to heave. On the way back, we took advantage of the opportunity to sleep, which wasn’t hard. The sound of the waves crashing and the breeze in my hair was so calming.
By afternoon, we were back at the resort. All the activity the day before made us so sore that we decided to get massages. Unfortunately we had to wait a few hours. The food prices at the resort were a bit ridiculous for my taste so Ashley and I took a taxi to the mall, well tried anyway. We told the man we wanted to go to the centro comercial. We didn’t make it there. He took us to the center of town. So there we were in a foreign area with no sense of direction. However, I’m not one to waste time, so I went to a pharmacy and asked for directions to the mall. This took a while because I’m assuming there are many meaning to centro comercial so I had to explain what it was. The lady thankfully understood us and gave us directions. Taxi number two; not a taxi at all. We ended up getting into a random man’s car and realized this after the fact. There are people who drive around honking their horn trying to wave people down, like any other taxi driver, but they don’t have permits. We didn’t panic and the drive was only about five minutes long and we made it to the mall so we were happy about that. We ate, shopped, and lost track of time, so we thought.
Once we returned to the resort, we realized we read army time wrong and arrived about two hours earlier for our scheduled massages. Ashley went first, allowing me to work on homework, and then it was my turn. This was my first time getting a massage so it was a bit awkward for me. I let my guard down, closed my eyes, and relaxed. Twenty minutes later, I heard the door open and close. I figured the lady would slip back in at some point so I paid no mind and fell asleep. I woke an hour later and left. I thought it was so weird because I figured they would let you know when they were done so you could leave, but apparently not.
Come Tuesday, a group of us decided to go visit Huacachina, called the “oasis of America.” It’s a natural lake in the desert that’s featured on the back of the 50 Nuevo Sol. I pictured it to be huge for some reason but we got there and it wasn’t. Ashley and I paid for romantic paddle boating but only made about two rounds and were too hot and sweaty to continue. We weren’t tired for shopping though, go figure. We came across a jewelry stand and bought necklaces and bracelets made from hemp, cuartz crystal, and turquoise.
We made it back in time to back up. The one thing we really wanted to do was visit the Nazca Lines. I’m surprised the school didn’t include that in our trip but too late now. We short time and money, no biggy though. We boarded the bus and prepared for the boring ride back. It was a short trip but filled with excitement.