Monday, September 1, 2008

17 August 2008

Ica and beyond ~

Last night in an effort to find some variety in the night life which is non-existent in Ica, we invested in the $1 cab ride to the oasis city of Huacachina, the site of our previous day’s sand dune excursion. Huacachina had a completely different feel than our prior experience where we spent our time as I’d envision at an oasis, under a scorching sun, amidst sand dunes. This time the sun had already fallen below the horizon and the cool landscape was unrecognizable in the darkness. Now, the oasis served as the one center of light in a world of darkness. We entered a compound which fit my stereotype of a desert locale. Upon entering the gate, there was an open field with palm trees and hammocks. At this hour, the plaza was vacant, occupied only by some stray dogs and a turtle. Across the plaza from the entrance stood a restaurant/bar, painted with bright colors and covered by a straw thatched roof. The inside of the restaurant was even more colorful and was modestly filled with travelers of all types, bundled up in defense of the cool night. Marijuana held a presence in the room, but not as much as I’d expect at a traveler’s oasis. We casually drank a few very cheap local beers but kept to ourselves. All the tables appeared to be keeping to themselves, a completely unexpected phenomenon. For this reason, we left before midnight and had another relatively early night.

In the morning, I got treated with my second consecutive solar shower experience. As is the case with much of Peru and Latin America, hot water is a luxury and is always a welcomed surprise when it comes to showering. Being that Ica is in the desert, it boasts the ability to offer solar showers. My initial perception was that a solar shower was an all around great concept. I assumed that the name was derived by the process of creating warm water via solar power, a green solution. Now after multiple solar shower experiences, I’m uncertain of its significance. Imagine turning on a power source before entering the shower. This power source then has a number of shoddy, electrical wires running into the shower head. If at any time you touch the shower head, you feel a numbing sensation from the electricity running through your body. I’m no electrician, but I doubt it is wise to have an unreliable electrical power source running into a shower. I wonder how many people die each year from solar showers.

Today was another relaxing day which included two casual stops to restaurants where we loitered around and did some reading. We also booked a plane ticket from Cuzco to Lima as a safety precaution. You could never tell from our time in Ica, but it is currently prime tourist season, and we have been told that it may be difficult to find a way back to Lima because of booked flights. By buying some tickets, we solidified the remainder of our trip. We will have to stay around the Cuzco area for a week. We’d then arrive in Lima with a full day to experience the city.

In the afternoon, we boarded an overnight bus to Cuzco. We have no reservations in Cuzco which I hope means that we can pick and choose where to stay. I hope it doesn’t mean that we’ll be outside every night, especially considering it gets very cold in Cuzco and people even complain about the coldness inside of the hostels. For this reason, I hope to buy some alpaca wool upon our arrival. Right now, I’m sitting on a bus somewhere in Peru. It is pitch dark, and I imagine that we are traveling uphill as Ica is at sea level and Cuzco is over twice as high as Denver. I did find a bookstore and got my first of hopefully many Spanish language books for the trip.

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