Checking my email at the hostel before we left for our bus to Huachachina I was sad to see an email from my Mum saying that my Poppa had passed away. He had been deteriorating for a while and getting worse over the last couple of weeks/month so it wasn’t a total surprise but still crappy news to hear when you aren’t at home with your family.

Looking out the window on our bus to Ica, I was surprised by the arid nature of the landscape of Western Peru. The area along the coast is so very, very, dry and the side of the road is dotted with what can only be described as small houses which seem to be abandoned. Something that has struck both of us is the contrast between the ‘poor’ in Peru and those in Ecuador, Colombia and parts of Central America. Many of the Adobe (mud brick) houses we have seen previously on this trip have been accessorised with TV satellites however this does not seem to be the case here.

After arriving to Ica, we caught a taxi to the nearby town of Huacachina, an oasis surrounded by giant sand dunes. Because it was dark when we arrived we were unable to see them so it was quite a surprise to wake up in the morning and see just how large they were, towering over the small town.

Ty and I had lived with my Poppa for about a month before we moved to the UK, and we spent some time that day sharing some of our memories of him with each other. When we went out for dinner that night we toasted to him with the local drink, a Pisco sour. Poppa’s drink of choice was whiskey but since there wasn’t any of it around and the Pisco Sour was invited by a expat back in the day when he wanted a whiskey sour it seemed appropriate.
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The pisco and vino vessels
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Ty trying (and failing) to play a traditional horn
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Our friendly guide
We arranged a tour the following morning to visit a vineyard/pisco factory. Until the night before I didn’t really know what Pisco was, and it was cool to learn that it is actually distilled from the same grapes they use to produce the wine of the region. Peruvian wine is very sweet – more like a desert wine, and we made the most of the samples that were offered to us at the two companies we visited. The first factory was completely surreal. We walked into the room where they store the casks of wine and pisco to see a really odd assortment of things hung all over the walls and ceiling; a stuffed seal, some rather zorro looking swords, 2 mummified skulls, a collection of old telephones and radios, a crocodile…well you get the jist. They also had some antique copper sculptures of Incan gods and the man was telling us it either is, or they are trying to make it, a museum (bad Spanish translation couldn’t quite work out which one). He kept leading us around picking things up and telling us to take photos whilst plying our shot glasses with his various vintages. Because when the Spanish arrived they were unable to access the wood they needed to make the oak barrels they chose to use Incan water vessels to store the alcohol and they kinda look like the shape of carrots without their green top bits.

The second factory we visited was a much bigger operation and it was great to have an English guide show us around and tell us all about pisco and how it is made before it was time for more samples. I quite liked one of the rose coloured wines and then found out that the locals call it the ‘baby maker’ or the ‘panty dropper’ as it is a mixture of 2 parts pisco and 1 part wine – tastes good and gives you that warming sensation on the inside but is quite dangerous cos you don’t realise how strong your drink is since it goes down so easily.
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Ready to go!
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On the dunes
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Dune buggy!
Back at the Oasis for a couple of hours to have lunch and sober up before our sand-boarding trip in the afternoon. We spent 2 hours hooning all over the dunes in big buggies, there was a couple of tummy dropping moments but our driver was really good and it never really felt unsafe. After half an hour he dropped us at the top of a massive dune and we started boarding down. We found that it was way harder to sand board than it is to snowboard and after a couple of goes we decided to was more fun to sit and lie down on the board. Its possible to hire sandboards in the town and play around yourself but the definite advantage of the dune buggy tour was that we would ride down and then our guide would drive us back to the top of another dune for our next turn! Ty found out the hard way how exhausting the dunes were to climb when he decided to be an eager beaver at the end of the day and head off down one massive sand dune before the guide arrived to tell us the next dune was dangerous so we couldn’t go all the way down. The look on Ty’s face was hilarious when he realised I wasn’t messing with him and he actually had to walk back up the dune haha. We had decided to do the 4pm tour and it was cool to watch the sun going down over the dunes.

Next stop: Nazca
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Huacachina
 





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