I couldn´t resist naming this blog post what I did, after seeing a huge glittering, lit up sign inside a bar there with these words written on. Kind of rolls right off the tongue.
Now to all the geographers out there, your probably already thinking what a strange route to go, up into Peru and then come back through Bolivia “again” to get to Argentina. Well this might make you have a meltdown. As we had heard so many bad things about Lima, we literally couldn´t be arsed to make the 25hour bus journey to get there and realise it was everything, eveybody had told us. We were however willing to spend 18hours on a bus, which would take us 7 hours away from Lima to Ica, to then travel back the way we have came to Arequipa, back to Puno, La Paz and end up in Salta, where we first set off for Sucre!!. In Ica there is a desert oasis to be found, called Huacachina, which is nestled inbetween monstrous sand dunes and sits at the gateway to the sandy badlands of endless dunes.
Some clever dicky came along to Huaca and decided that taking a dune buggy, loading on a few sandboards and driving out into the huge dunes, could turn out to be an exciting adventure. This person wasn´t wrong. Its pretty much the only draw to Huaca, as the lake is not exactly Oasis like, thanks to its influx of swan boat peddling tourists and no doubt the residents sewage running straight into the lake!!! (just a theory, but where else would it go?).
The town consists of one street, which curves around the lake and every building is either a restaraunt, hotel, hotel/restaraunt/tour agent or restaraunt/bar/hotel/tour agent. Essentially its a nothingy town which can be explored in all of 15minutes. Having said that, after being in Sucre, La Paz and then Cusco, the peace and quiet (apart from the occasional buggies until 6pm) do make this the oasis it is. A typical day involves eating breakfast around the poolside bar at your hostel, sunbathing by the pool until lunch, strolling around the lake to stretch your legs and get some cheap lunch at the only cheap restaraunt and then fall asleep back at the pool until the sun goes down. Quite similar to a beach resort routine, which to be honest, with everything completely covered in sand, your only a fish and chips away from the full package.
The biggest highlight of Huaca, is ofcourse the dune buggying and sandboarding. Which essentially is the exact same principle as snowboarding (you can even use snowboarding gear), the only difference is that before each slope you need to wax your board, else the friction just brings you to a hault. Before you can reach the sandboarding dunes though, you obviously need to get out to them first, which is where the buggying comes in handy. Depending on your group size, the buggy will have enough seats to accomodate everybody and you all get your own bucket seat, complete with made shift 5 point harness (two seat belts tied together!).
Once everybodys arms and legs are inside the ride, its time to tear-off into the dunes, where the driver isn´t to shy to slam the pedal to the floor. The only thing I can liken the experience is to a roller coaster, as you tear up the really steap dunes, perch on the top and then slowly creep over the other side and (sometimes) go as close as you can to vertical, where you can feel the back end kick up. These dunes aren´t the ones you find at south shields either, were talking 80foot high dunes where instead of breaking the driver just trusts the sand!
Then once you reach the drivers “best spot” for sandboarding, everybody hops out, waxes down the board and waves bye to the driver, as he tears down the dunes to meet us at the bottom. Then the shit hits the fan and you realise that these things are really steap and really huge, but one by one everyone straps up and throws themself down. Which can also be done lying flat on your belly, which I only discovered on the last hill, is actually the way to go, as unless your Shaun White of the sandboarding world, you aint going fast, friction will not allow it when you stand up. Lie down and distribute your weight right, go dagger straight and your off like a rocket. I don´t mean this in a “I couldn´t even get fast, because I´m really good”, I say this because I tried, kept falling over and thought it was just me being shit, until two canadian snowboarders, who had hired snowboards, told me it was nothing like snow and you can´t get the same speed up. Which is weird because all of the people on their bellies where saying they couldn´t slow down!! So the obvious choice was belly down, face first and feet up in the air. The result is like shit off a stick, much better than standing up, apart from the fact that at the bottom, the footprints of previously people, become landmines and destroy your man parts.
If your also as crazy as we are, you can climb up the huge dune, which incases the oasis and you can do this by two options. The sensible but longer route up the gradual incline, which is slightly more solid thanks to lots of people walking up it or the stupid tiresome route straight up the steapest part of the dune, which is soft, crumbles under your every footstep, but is a much shorter route……yeahhh. So obviously as were both dumb as, we chose the straight up approach and literally went straight up the steepest part of the dune! After what felt like hours, when we made it upto the top, we were met with awesome panoramic views of the surrounding area and a great view of the distant sun setting. We aso met a really nice guy from the US and his dog, who were about to hitchike all the way back to California!! Epic roadtrip and very much so, since he had very, very little spanish!
It was nice to have an inland beach holiday for a few days, but paradise certainly came with a price and it was not a cheap place to eat and drink. Great for recharging the batteries though, after spending so long in the cold of Bolivia and Cusco. Also great to try our hands at something different, although its safe to say, next time I will try and just hire the buggy and leave the sandboarding to the pros.