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Day 8: Sand Surfing

We flew out of Arequipa to Lima. We were on a tight time schedule so settled for a drive through of Lima. Our guide pointed out the important landmarks in Lima. The current campaign that is popular in Lima is the anti-Pizarro movement. The conquistador’s statue has been removed from the city center and placed at a park behind the Government Palace.

On our drive to Huacachina, what do we see?! In every color, autoriskshaws from Hamara Bajaj :)

We drove 200 miles in 6- 7 hours to reach Huacachina, an oasis in the middle of a desert. A sand buggy was waiting for us. It was an adrenaline pumping roller coaster like ride up and down the sand dunes. We stopped at some sand dunes that were 50 – 100 meters tall and surfed down the dunes lying tummy down on the surf board. The kids piggy backed down with us and requested for faster, taller dunes! Sand surfing rocks.

We took a trip to the supermarket to pick up some chips, water and yogurt for dinner. I was expecting to see a small store and what do I find?! A huge monstrosity of a shopping mall that can give any Walmart superstore run for its money. People were flocking to it like there is no tomorrow. Whether they can afford it? Do these people really need 300 varieties of shampoo that are sold at such a huge over head? Are people’s incomes going to come up to match the rising cost of living? Is this growth? If so is it sustainable? Peru seems to be caught up in the same bubble that exists in all developing countries.

Day 9: Nazca Lines

The next day we departed early to catch our 12 seater plane over the Nazca lines. Nazca culture is dated at 400AD – 650AD. In the desert, etched on the ground are these lines that range from simple straight lines to closed shapes to figures such as humming bird, tree, whale etc. What these lines signify and why they were made still remains a mystery. The geoglyphs are enormous, some the size of a football field! So the Nazca culture must have had some kind of scaling model and technique to construct these figures. Remember, they didn’t have a script!

The children heard the, ‘We are going to take a small plane to see the Nazca lines’ prep talk so much that they were wondering among themselves, ‘Why just lions in Nazca? What happened to the other animals? Are the Nazca lions better than the African lions?’

Flight above Nazca lines is not for the weak hearted/stomach(ed). The whole ride is approximately 15 – 20 min long and you reach 3200 feet in the first five minutes. As is the flight coined a new definition for ‘bumpy’. To add to this, they tilt the flight 15 – 20 degrees side ways on both side to make sure that the people get a good view of the lines. Before you board the plane, they weigh you and make you sit in a way that the weight is well balanced inside the plane. Unfortunately Chula has to sit by herself on a single seat. She was scared, but managed quite well. Of the 12 people in the plane, two youngest children fell asleep, one adult gave up and closed her eyes, one adult threw up, one about to throw up and the others barely managed. I found that sniffing Purell helped. But I had to sniff so much Purell to not throw up, that I was wobbly from all the alcohol that went to my head! Next to Machu Pichu, Nazca was a fantasy of mine and I am quite happy that I could do this.

After the first few figures, R gave up taking pictures and settled for keeping his stomach together. The astronaut in picture below is taken from an elevation of 3000 feet and is approximately 100 feet long. So you get the idea of the size of these things!

On our ride back to Lima we stopped at Chauchilla to see the excavated tombs. There are around 12 tombs and if you have seen one, you have seen it all. On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the best, I would rate it at 3. May be with interesting history and facts it can be a 4.5, but that is about it.

Lunch break was at a winery at Chincha. We were given a personalized tour of the Pisco making at this winery. They still make Pisco the old fashioned way – four women dance on about three tonnes of grapes the whole night :)

From this point onwards it was a race against time for us to make it back to Lima in time to catch our flight.

Misc

If you have children 8 years or younger in your group, check child rates. Though it is not specified, they are charged a different rate for bus/train/entrance tickets.

They have clean restrooms in most public places. You have to pay to use the restrooms. Pick up toilet paper where you pay. There are no toilet papers inside many public restrooms.

All the women in Peru seem to know Sharukh Khan.

In Machu Pichu my friend totally terrified our guide by asking, ‘Did they shoot the Indian movie here?’ The poor guy quickly replied, ‘No, no, no. No shooting. No Indians.’

The most common term used by Peruvian people – ‘No problem-no’.

I was pleased as punch that I was able to observe my special friday fasts in Peru too. It made me realize that if mentally prepared, all the fuel my body needs is two bananas, one avacado and a bottle of water over a 12 hour period of time.

If you don’t mind alcohol, try the Pisco sour with the raw eggs. R tried it with and without eggs and declared that with eggs is mucho delicioso.

I salivated over the super size corn they have. Finally tasted some and wasn’t that impressed.

When you go to small restaurants and if you are a big group, remember that they go out and purchase ingredients only after you order. Fresh food, but it takes a couple of hours.

Papas a.k.a potatoes. A member of our group gave specific verbal and non verbal instructions to cook the potatoes with onions, picante and voila potato curry that went well with our chapathis.

Italian food is quite popular, especially Fettucine and  pesto. But they kill you with the cheese over dose.

So folks, if any one is going to Peru, drop a line and I would be more than happy to chat. Ta! Happy new year and all that.




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