Mountain Sized Sand Doons, Doon buggy, Morenas from Chincha, Ceviche and more! Part II (long over due)

This post is well over do.. Please read Mountain Sized Sand Doons, Doon buggy, Morenas from Chincha, Ceviche and more! Part I before you read this one =).

Matthew and I had an amazing time in Chincha it was now time for us to jump on the bus again and headed towards Ica to make our way to Huacachina. (the funny thing is, is that this is the first time I’ve looked at this website lol).  While we were on the two-hour bus ride they played in “The Pursuit of Happiness” in Spanish; a few ladies selling Peruvian snacks, sandwiches, and gaseosas (sodas) came on board.  We arrived at the Ica bus station hailed a cab and we were off to Huacachina!

Welcome to Huacachina

We rode through the town of Ica for about 5 minutes and then out of nowhere these huge sand dunes the height of sky scrapers appeared. They were absolutely amazing. We pulled up to Huacachina which is actually a dessert oasis not really much of a town outside of the hotels and restaurants surrounding the lagoon and we felt like we were in a movie.We began our search for hotels by first going to the higher priced hotels listed in Lonely Planet and then working our way down.  Unfortunately this was the Peru’s Independence Day weekend which meant the hotels were all full and were double the price. Apparently all of Peru wanted to go where we were going =).  First we went to Salvatierra which was listed in Lonely Planet Peru (otherwise known as “the book”) and people’s trip reports at the South American Explorers Club (SAE) they were sold out; then El Huacachinero which has there own doon buggies they were sold out; then Hosteria Suiza which is supposed to be one of the nicer hostels, they had a room for about S./300 soles (a little over $100.00 but we were already used to soles) it looked descent but way to much, we said we would be right back while we looked for another hotel.  We felt like Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay but no one would take us in. We finally found a hotel (well I should say hostel) the Carola del Sur a.k.a Casa de Arena II that was somewhat descent and they promised not to book the third bed in our room. We had a shared bathroom that we weren’t able to see until after we booked the room because the other guest had it locked. Once we saw it we knew our next shower would be in Lima.

Carola del Sur

At that point it was around 3pm and we figured lets not waste the day and find something to do.  I went to a place that was recommended in the SAE guide Desserts Nights and we booked a wine tour that would leave 20 mins later, and doon buggies and sand boarding for the next morning. It was great we got to taste tons of Pisco and Wines, and the “bodegas” were quite interesting.

Pisco tasting

After the wine tasting we went in search for dinner and ended up at Hostel Sand and Lake. I had some pretty good fried fish and of course a Pisco Sour. The people there were pretty nice, they told us about a party at Casa de Arena. We then took a walk around town and headed back to our hostel for a nap. Oh nap did I say – that was impossible as our fellow backpackers that shared a bathroom with us decided to blast Israeli club music.  Our room had a bunk bed and single twin beds in the room; however, both of the beds on the bunk bed had a so thin layer of sand. So we slept on the same twin bed together. Yes, we have learned we are not backpackers and we decided on staying for just one night instead of two. We headed to Casa de Arena (FYI arena means sand in Spanish) and there wasn’t too much going on so we just walked around Huacachina some more.  Matthew had some pizza at the little restaurant at the hotel and we headed to bed. I have to mention that the restaurant only had alcoholic beverages available to sale at that time about 3am even though they had some sodas to mix with their drinks smh.

Our room

The next morning after we woke up I wrapped up my hair to protect it from the sand and we headed over to Dessert Nights for breakfast, doon buggy riding, and sand boarding. I ordered a pretty darn delicious omelet with asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and mushrooms. 5 mins later there’s a guy that pull up to the restaurant on a motorcycle and all the servers are placing there orders with him. Of course I ask what this is all about – he’s selling fresh ceviche from Paracas. It was only S./8 so of course I ordered some as Matthew laughed at me. I can’t help it I’m a foodie =).  So I only ate half my omlet and all of my pescado ceviche and Matthew was starving after our doon buggy adventure.

The best ceviche

We finished up our breakfast and then got strapped into our doon-buggy.  OMG . if you are ever in Lima and you have the time to head to doon-buggies and sand boarding in Huacachina is a must! We had the time of our lives =)  Well they say pictures are worth a thousand words so please take a look at more of our pictures here: photos.

Love in the sand doons

After that we checked out of our hotel and hopped in a moto-taxi (a three wheeled taxi basically a motorcycle with a third wheel) and headed to Ica to buy our bus ticket back home to Lima.  We stopped by the Ica Regional Museum – they have a lot of mummies, pottery, textiles and a replica of the Nazca Lines.  While there we met a guy from Paracas who told us when we come back to call him, he’ll pick us up and show us around =). After that we headed to Ica’s central plaza so that Matthew could grab some lunch. We ended up at Plaza 125 – Matthew had the Tacu Tacucon bistek y salsa criolla. After lunch the owner of the restaurant came over and talked to us – she is so sweet.

A true dread
Nice to meet you
Plaza 125

We jumped on the bus and luckily purchased the “Ejecutivo Class” seats for S./3 more then regular and had a lot more leg room this time. We arrived back to Lima went to grab our bags ……. oh here we go.. my bag was gone. Nothing we can do about it – lesson learned backpack under our seats.

Even though we lost our bag and we had a crappy hotel experience we still had an amazing time and will go back!  Remember to check out the additional photos :photos

Mountain Sized Sand Doons, Doon buggy, Morenas from Chincha, Ceviche and more! Part I

Last week everyone was talking about their plans for the Peruvian Independence Day. So we decided to join in the fun and take a road trip. We went to Ica and visited Chincha, El Carmen, Huacachina, and the City of Ica.

Day 1: Chincha and El Carmen

We took the Metropolitano to the Peru Bus station and there was a bus ready to go. The buses leave there every 15 -20 mins so you don’t need to purchase a ticket in advance.  Along the way we passed the huge sand dunes, farms, small houses that were basically boxes, and then the beach popped out of nowhere. Using our trusty Lonely Planet “The Book” guide we stayed at the suggested Hostal La Posado. Which was perfect for one inexpensive night. It was comfortable and clean- no fireworks.  It was however double the price due to the holiday weekend.

Chincha and El Carmen are where the majority of black people live in Peru together (there are more in Lima but they are dispersed)- they are the descendents of the African slaves that were brought to Peru. Chincha is like your typical busy Peruvian city but with more black/mixed people and with black manikin in the stores =).  I wouldn’t necessarily say at first sight that this is a predominantly Afro Peruvian community; however it may be – there might just be more of a mix here. We walked around town and ended up on the street that has anything and everything for sale, from peanuts, to sunglasses, to shoes, and jackets.  Of course I had to stop because the sun was out and got some sunglasses then I stopped and tried some boiled peanuts. This street lead to the market that had all different types of food.

The first thing I ate in Chincha was boiled nuts (they look similar to peanuts) from this guy

That evening we took a micro combi to El Carmen. El Carmen is a predominately black town near Chincha, we went there for a pena (a place where they play criola – afro-peruvian musica). As Matthew said were “in a random city, on a random road, in a random combi” lol.. That’s what it felt like. Unfortunately we got to El Carmen to late in the afternoon to see anything and to early in the evening for the Penas. When we got to the square there were kids playing and a few adults out and people sitting outside of the local stores that sale beer.  So Matthew grabbed a beer from one of the stores and we grabbed some food at what looked to be the only restaurant at the plaza. It was great. I had Tacu Tacu with chicken and Matthew got what the owner told him they had. Which ended up being fried chicken and french fries lol. After dinner we hopped back on another random combi, in a random city, on a random road. Except this time the crobador (see previous post about the Combi Diablo) was this kid that had to be no more that 12. He had to be all hard-core to prove himself.  It was quite comical but sad at the same time. The driver (probably his father) got mad at the kid for kicking some teens off who didn’t have enough money. But he was laughing about it. This is a situation where I normally would not accept the ride because it supports child labor. However we didn’t know when the next combi would come and there were not any taxis in site.

We got back to our hostel and asked the owners about where to go. They suggested Scorpions and gave us the flyer.  That night they were even having a pena because of the holiday! In the club they play latin music and African Peruvian music. It was amazing seeing black and white latinas dancing like the way I learned when I was a little girl in African dance class.

This is at club Scorpians. They had a Pena (live Afro Peruvian Music that night). They asked for a morena from Chincha to come on stage .. then for guys from Lima and had a dance competition for the guys. Her dancing style was like what I learned in African dance class as a kid but with more fluidity. This is not Miami booty shakin. Look at her arms

Click here to see more pictures:

Day 2:

We got up and had lunch at a local cevicheria – Matthew had talarin saltado (Chifa version of Chicken Lo Mein). Walked around the city a little more and then took a bus heading to Ica.

To be continued……..