We ran from Nazca as fast as we could put one foot in front of the other–spending just enough time to grab our bags, eat a few fried egg sandwiches from a cart (delicious, BTW) and have someone on the street chase down the bus for us that was already pulling away. We paid our bus driver $2 to take us by moto-taxi from Ica to Huacachina, 5km away. Huacachina is an oasis, surrounded by desert, near the central coast of Peru. We arrived on a Saturday to beautiful weather and the little town was PACKED. We had to stop at more than 5 hostels to find one with space. But once we did, we found it hard to leave.
The Huacachina Oasis is most famous for lending its image to the 50 sole note.
The favorite past time (and biggest money-maker) for locals is sand-boarding, but not the kind we did in Chile…this is more like the skeleton event from the Olympics. First, they take you on a dune-buggy ride, up and down the mountains of sand, flying over jumps, skidding into turns, rattling your bones. Once at the top of a dune sufficient for killing a person with speed, the drivers throw you down face first on a piece of wood with little more than a strap to hold onto. You have to be perfectly still…any movement will cause the board to catch and you go tumbling down the rest of the way.
Joshua, unfortunately, rarely takes time to listen to directions, so he strapped into his like a snowboard and went down the mountain on his feet (or tried) while our driver screamed at him to stop. He ended up eating it, rolling down half the mountain and cutting up his ankles.
I, on the other hand, was a pro.
They stopped the buggies long enough for us to watch the sunset over the dunes before throwing us around on the way back to Huacachina.
Once the weekend ended, the crowds cleared, the prices dropped and the Oasis became a peaceful respite from the trip.
It wasn’t until our last day that we discovered Tejas which are pecans wrapped in carmel and dipped in chocolate–the specialty from the area. The candies alone almost convinced us to stay another day.
We ended up staying, but little did we know how costly it would be. That night there was a 5.7 Richter earthquake that hit only a few kilometers away outside of Ica. Our room shook and shook and kept shaking. All the dogs in the area started to howl. As I was freaking out, Joshua just kept reading Game of Thrones. Go figure.