Day 18 – June 11th, 2012
Today was one of the trip’s most expensive days. We were in Nazca and since I probably would never return, I decided to treat myself to an aerial view of the world-famous Nazca lines. Those are the mysterious line, found in the middle of the desert, that form giant trees and animals which can only be seen from the sky. For $100 USD, I bought a ticket to see these lines for myself. From the sky.
There’s not much I can write about the Nazca lines that hasn’t already been said, but seeing such an ancient and strange sight first hand is truly wonderful. If you can handle being in a small plane that buzzes around like a mosquito, I highly recommend it. Even if it’s a bit expensive, it’s one of those things that I don’t regret just for the sheer fact that it highlights the wonder and ingenuity of humanity.
Day 19 – June 12th, 2012
When traveling, we often forget that we are still capable of getting hurt. Sure, we buy insurance, just in case, but we never figure we’ll need it. At least, I don’t. Today was a day when I got reminded how real danger can be while traveling. On our way from Nazca to Paracas, I saw an overturned tourist bus on the side of the road. It put me in a melancholic sense of self-reflection. We travel to experience new things, often putting ourselves in situations that we never would in the safety of our homes. In a sense, that’s the whole point of traveling, getting out of our comfort zones, but we can’t forget that even if we don’t live our normal lives on the road, we’re still as vulnerable as if we were at home. Sadly, the overturned bus wasn’t as close as I was going to be to tragedy that day.
We stopped at Huacachina for lunch and the option to do some sand buggying and sandboarding. I missed out on the chance to do sand buggying in Abu Dhabi, so I certainly wasn’t going to miss out again (the chance to do some sand boarding was an added bonus!). We set off on our roller-coaster-like sand buggy ride in the desert with some sandboards in the trunk. If you ever have the chance to go on a buggy on sand dunes, do it. It’s so much fun! We first stopped on top of what I thought was a high dune to practice our sandboarding. If you’ve never tried that, take my word that sandboarding is both terrifying and super hard, but also exhilarating. Your feet are strapped in on a wooden board and you slide down a steep sand slope while trying not to fall and eat loads of sand. That being said, it’s lots of fun. After that “starter” hill, we tried a second, higher hill. Many people gave up on trying to go down the hill standing up and simply rode it lying down on the board. Ironically, one girl really ate sand while going on down this way. You know how sand is, it gets everywhere.
After this second hill, we went to an even higher sand dune for our third and last ride. I managed to more or less ride the dune, but I wouldn’t say I did it expertly. It was more of a manage-not-to-fall-and-control-my-speed success. I’ll take what I can though. Our last rider wasn’t so lucky. About halfway down the hill, the edge of his board caught on the sand and in an instant, he was flung forward, face first, in the sand. Thinking about his whole body slamming on his face still makes me shiver. We rushed over to see if he was ok. His glasses were a meter behind him, bent, and he had a slight cut below his right eye. His knee was hurting too. It could have been much worst though, sand doesn’t really absorb impact, and he had just hurled his body, face first, into it. While we were making sure he felt fine, uneasily joking, and waiting for the sand buggy to arrive (we figured we should call it a day and head back to town after that), we heard the last thing you want to hear after such an accident. “Guys, I can’t see anything.”
An instant later, his face was white and he collapsed. My father had done the same thing in different circumstances a few years ago, and he made it out unscathed, so I had an idea of what happening, but it was still terrifying. We were in the desert with one of our friends unconscious. No matter how calm you are, it’s not a situation in which you ever want to find yourself. To his credit, our guide handled the situation perfectly. After what seemed like an eternity, the buggy arrived. Our friend returned to us and after a few long minutes, we returned to the city. After a bit of rest, he felt better, but it’s very likely (from my untrained opinion) that he suffered a concussion.
Later that night, I dropped my camera and it broke. But I rather drop and break 1 000 cameras than have my friends go through what happened in the desert.
Day 20 – June 13th, 2012
On our last full day of the trip, we made our way to Lima, the capital of Peru. Like every other capital city, Lima is teeming with American chain restaurants and giant supermarkets. We had our final goodbye supper and decided we should go out for drinks together as a group one last time.
Together with my roommate and the Belgian guy, we decided to have a tequila night after supper since nothing else was happening (9pm on a Wednesday night in Latin America, who would have thought otherwise). We found a reasonable bar and took turns at buying rounds after rounds of tequila for 5 soles per shot (around $2). I remember Alex, my roommate, estimating we finished about 3 bottles of tequila, or about 16 shots each. It is one of the few things I remember clearly from that night. It was a big finish to big vacation.
Day 21 – June 14th, 2012
This was it. My last day in Peru. Though it wasn’t really a day as much as a few hours in the morning. My flight left at 7:30, so I had to leave the hotel at around 5am to make it at the airport before 6am. However, because I decided to party quite hard on my last night, I ended up sleeping through my watch alarm and the wake up call. I finally came to around 5:45am. This couldn’t be good. Because sober Simon had the foresight to get everything ready for drunk Simon, I got dressed and ready in record time (like 2 minutes). Luckily, the taxi driver had been waiting for me for the better part of the hour and he was ready to go when I emerged from my room, still drunk. I’m honestly not sure how I managed to get all my stuff together and board the airplane without too much trouble. In fact, when I unpacked, I discovered that the only thing I forgot during my rushed departure was my deodorant. Not bad!
I found my seat on the flight (a nice window seat) and next thing I know I’m waking up 5 hours later, somewhere over Central America. The rest of the return home was, as these things typically are, uneventful. But after three weeks of fun and excitement, some time to relax was exactly what I needed.