Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Oasis Awaits

A stroll by the lagoon, an afternoon ice cream treat, watching a myriad of colors kiss the sand dunes as they faded away with the sun. We did it all. This weekend we had four days off of school, so a few friends and I took advantage and travelled to the desert oasis Huacachina. We relaxed and enjoyed the touristic activities the town and its nearby cities had to offer.

The mermaid reminiscent of IU's Showalter Fountain

La laguna

                The first day we went on a sand dune buggy ride, which was thrilling. Between the precipice-like edges of the dunes and the ridiculously tight donut turns, I thought we were all going to die. Luckily though, we had a very experienced driver who, just as we were expecting him to turn left, would swerve right causing us to squeal with excitement. What a roller-coaster! At a few points on the ride, we stopped to take photos and to go sandboarding, which in our case consisted of sledding on your belly, head-first down the dune on a snowboard-esque plank. At the top, it looked like an incredibly steep descent, but the joy of feeling the earth glide past me as I sped down was worth any anxiety felt at the top. If anything, seeing the height increased our excitement and satisfaction at having reached the bottom.

The dune buggy

                The following day we toured three bucolic vineyards nearby. Although it was interesting to hear about the production of pisco and of wine, my favorite part was simply the aesthetics of the grapes growing in the sun and the mountains presiding over them in the distance.

                On our final day, we travelled to Las Islas Ballestas (“The Islands of Arches”) in the Pacific Ocean. Formed by volcanic rock, these islands are home to thousands of birds; most of the species I can’t identify, but the Humboldt penguins certainly stood out. Due to the large population of sea-birds, there is also a high quantity of bird poop (a.k.a guano) deposited on the islands, so the people harvest it and sell as fertilizer. Guano was a huge industry in Peru in the late 19th century. Also on the islands were many sea lions. By far the best encounter with sea lions was the scene we saw of a mother carrying her child on her back in the water as she was teaching it to swim.

Humboldt penguins (right side); click on the photo to make it bigger

                After that, we went to the Paracas Reserve, which is a desert bordering the sea. The land of the reserve used to be covered by the waters of the Pacific, so now there are many distinctly colored sediments formed from oceanic mineral deposits long ago. From the cliffs, the views of the sand and the ocean were breathtaking.

                Twas a tranquil and beautiful trip!

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