Peru: hopping around

So as I mentioned in the previous post, I had made the decision to explore Peru instead of staying in Cusco to learn Spanish. 
The hop-on-hop-off bus had only been running for a few months but it was a really nice company. It went from Lima to Cusco in 7 days and then ran from Cusco to Lima in a few less days. Even though I had already been in Lima, I had not seen anything else from Peru so I impulsively joined for the promising stops in between.
Not many people joined in that direction, and in the end it was just me, Hayley, a fun Australian girl I had met in the hostel, and Shuli, our guide which was more like an extra friend. Since it skipped Arequipa in our direction, our bus took about 20 hours to get to the first destination, but with an entire bus for the 3 of us, that was really no problem. we had our sleeping area, our tv-watching area, our drinking area, like a giant low-cost limousine for us.
Before arriving the next day, we drove past the Nazca lines and made a small stop to climb the poorest watchtower I’ve ever seen to get a view of the lines. The Nazca lines are huge drawings of animals in the desert that have been there for several centuries. Since it’s so dry in the desert, they will probably stay there even longer. You get a much better view of the lines from an airplane instead of a sad 20m high watchtower, but no tengo dineiros, and we got the general idea of what we were looking at.
We later arrived in Huacachina, a small oasis in the middle of the desert. It was quite surreal, the kind of things you would see in an Alladin movie or in the Egyptian desert, but here it was, in Peru!
 There isn’t much to do in the oasis with its 15 houses and a few restaurants, so the Peru Hop organized to go sandboarding. We drove into the desert on a dune buggy with a crazy 80 year old Peruvian who was not shy to make us feel like we were on a rollercoaster. seatbelts strapped was the best option!
We then all took out our boards and were advised to go flat on our belly down the mountain high dune. It wasn’t so scary at all, so I took a shot at actually standing on the board like it was a snowboard. 
I should have known better not to try, but I literally FORGOT that I don’t know how to snowboard and only remembered when I was already on it that I’ve never done this before, so I fell on my face.
Quite painfully even.
(looking like a pro, right before i fell on my face)
I first laughed it off but then suddenly realized walking was pretty painful, and I had a super heavy 4 day hike ahead of me a few days later… I still had 6 days to recuperate I told myself, and so did everyone else comforting me so I tried to forget my pain by celebrating that I had just gotten accepted to start an internship at the UN in New York! I had impulsively applied right before starting my 4 month Latin-America trip because I had a layover in New York between Europe and the Americas and I figured it would be nice to have a reason to stay in New York! (I think it’s pretty clear by now I’m a weird mix of impulsive and calculated…)
The next day we chilled a bit in the soaring hot oasis by the pool of the hostel and then left Huaca-fucking-china. A little tour of a Pisco vineyard was on the schedule and the free tastings afterwards were very welcome. We spent the night in Paracas, a little coastal town by the pacific ocean. We woke up very early to go visit the Ballestos Islands, also known as the poor man’s Galappagos. It was quite a win of the day to see Penguins and Sealions before 9am!
(pic by my awesome telecameralens-travelcompanion Hayley)
The Islands smelled horrible from all the bird poo, which is apparently being extracted for fuel. After visiting the islands we shortly hopped into the huge national park of Paracas, which wasn’t really a ‘park’ in the meaning of the word. It was a huge impressive desolate area without any fauna or flora next to the rigged coastline. We literally drove in with our huge bus with 3 people, took pictures at the epic coastline and left again.
I finally had ceviche for lunch, which is an amazingPeruvian dish of raw fish, that cooks because of the acidicness of lime juice. I hadn’t had it before since I was never close enough to the sea to trust the raw fish, but the one in Paracas was really good. The sourness kind of burned a hole in my stomach, but it was worth it.
I planned to be back in the hostel by Saturday, since I had promised to work a few days a week for 3 weeks, and it wasn’t really fair to just pack up and leave after a week, so I took another 18 hour bus back to Cusco, also to be ready for my Inca trail on (what I thought was) Tuesday.

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