Although we were still a bit queazy from the flight over Nazca lines and the following bus ride, it didn't stop us from taking a short walk around the lake and having dinner. Dinner was uneventful, except for an unusual trio of travelers we met -- a young Canadian woman traveling the world with her father who joined her for a months and her gay guy friend from Holland whom she met in Ecuador. Together we all headed to a a full moon party that was supposed to be happening in their hotel, but the party was slow and we were so tired, we decided to sleep it off.
In the morning the plan was to grab some breakfast and catch a 10am ride in a Dune Buggy into the desert to sand-board some dunes, but if I know anything is that making plans in South America is simply a waste of time. The breakfast place in our hostel was of course closed, and as soon as we walked out of the door to find a new place to eat, we had a new plan generously provided to us by a friendly cab driver who told us that dunes are best visited in late afternoon before the sunset and offered (for a fee of course) to take us to visit some wineries which we were planning to do anyways. And so, the Dune Buggy got rescheduled to 4pm, and after a short breakfast in Ica we visited a couple vineyards. Tacama, one of the wineries, was probably the most informative, and its Sangria wasn't too bad either. Pisco, on the other hand, a Peruvian grape liquor, was not to my taste -- not smooth enough and had an after taste.
On the ride back everybody got to have a little laugh at my expense -- I had a little colorful mishap when we stopped for some ice-cream, and I picked something called Pinta Lingua. After I finished it and was about to throw out the wrapper, I asked the driver what it meant. "Stick your tongue out and look in the mirror" he said. "Can you guess how the ice cream translates?"
Half an hour and half a toothpaste tube later we were ready for the dunes. When couple of days ago we decided to sand board, I was intrigued, but not without a worry. I've been on a skateboard a few times and have watched snowboarders zoom by when skiing, and so to say the least the thought of strapping a piece of wood to my feet, and sending myself flying down a steep sand dune made me a bit anxious. Nevertheless, all that is new and exciting has to be attempted, if for nothing else buy the check mark in life's to-do list, so off we went. I was still a bit nervous, but one look at our dune buggy and all my concerns went out the window. Its not that the buggy looked exceptionally safe, au contraire, it was just that it looked so dam cool I couldn't wait to take a ride. The buggy could seat about nine people, including the driver, and basically looked like an egg shaped cage riding on four large tractor wheels. For a second there I wondered about how the gaps between the bars of the buggy were to large to protect us if it was to turn over, but quickly chased that thought away. I was not about to psych myself into not going.
South American drivers, all of them, scare us both to no end. But this time, since we were riding through the desert and not a busy city street or a narrow mountain road, we could sit back, relax and scream with the rest of the group when the buggy would defy the laws of physics by climbing a very steep dune and then role over the ridge and drop down like a rollercoaster without a track. On one of such rides I managed to take a short film with my digital camera, hope you'll be able to watch it. The trip was supposed to be all about sand boarding, but I think everybody had more fun riding the buggy. When we actually got to sand board, people were so pumped from the ride some seamed to have lost their sense of fear completely, and would throw themselves to the mercy of the dune not only on their feet but also on their stomachs and rears. I have films of that as well.
I am not sure how long we spent in the desert; everybody was having too much fun to check their watch, but the sun was setting and after watching the twilights we took one more breathtaking ride through the dunes, to a view point of the oasis, and came back to the hostel where after washing off the sand we had another pleasant surprise: Riley -- the crazy drummer we met a month and a half ago in Quito (Ecuador), who got too wasted on hostel Centro del Mundo's rum and coke night to go with us to Papallacta hot springs the next day -- has just checked in with a truck driver and his nutritionist girlfriend, a Belgian couple he has been traveling with the past couple of weeks. Small world.