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Final Luxury

Huacachina, Peru

We had really splashed out for Huacachina, since it was Joanne's second last place, and we had already booked a hostel in Lima that we had been recommended, so this was the last indulgence. Imagine our disappointment to discover that the “hotel” has no internet facilities; not even ones you can pay for, never mind free wifi! Imagine our further disappointment when we realised that there aren't any power plugs around the bar or outside areas for you to plug your laptop into. Imagine us not quite being able to contain our disappointment when we realised there was no TV in the room. OK, we got towels and soap, which hostels didn't always supply you with, but the rest seem to be considered standard in a hostel. Strange. The more you pay the less you get.

Never mind, it was a very nice place, with a convenient HUGE sand dune just out the back gate, and it did have a swimming pool which hostels hardly ever do. AND it was sunny and quite warm, for the first time in Peru, which is ridiculous because we were rapidly approaching the equator, so I think it should have been warm all the time, if not sunny. We went to a nice chilled-out bar-restaurant nearby for dinner, which had lots of tiny cute kittens in the garden, who were chasing their mother's tail. Back at the hotel, the barman wanted us to try his version of a caipirinha, using vodka, passion fruit, and limes instead of the usual cachaça and limes. It was very nice indeed.

The breakfast was the same rubbish that you get in most hostels in Peru, though you could pay S5 to get eggs. We've had three-course lunches for S2.50 each! Anyway, it was an indulgence. We relaxed and sunbathed by the pool waiting for Lucy and Zdenek to arrive. I realised that this was the first time we have relaxed and sunbathed since the start of Cambodia. In February! Travelling is NOT a holiday. Since we were still quite near the coast, we tried the hotel cebiche. It was quite nice, but not as good as the stuff in Nazca.

When Lucy and Zdenek arrived they seemed delighted with the place; they had decided to spoil themselves here as well. The previous day we had booked all four of us places to go sandboarding. Tess and Liam had done this before we met up with them again in Cusco, and Tess has sustained a bloody nose and a black eye doing it (so Liam claims, anyway).

The sandboarding included a dune buggy ride, which I hadn't been that bothered about: I had been on a quad bike in the Namib Desert, so I'd been there done that. I had no idea! These dune buggies are fantastic vehicles: 3.5 litre diesel engine, or so the driver told Zdenek, and that means a lot of grunt. Totally unrelated to a quad-bike. Even racing around town to the dunes was fun, but as soon as we got on the sand it was brilliant. I could not believe how fast we were going over sand dunes. At several crests it really felt like we were going to take air, and all the girls screamed. Then the descents on some of the big dunes was like being on a roller-coaster. What a lot of fun! I want one.

When we came to a stop to admire the view with a big crowd of other people, I was disappointed it had come to a stop. We had paid for one hour and the clock was ticking! The drivers laughed when they heard me saying que mierda. But we were soon off again, but not for long. Next it was a stop to go sandboarding. By this time I really just wanted to keep zooming around in the buggy, but it was sandboarding we were here to do, so I thought I might as well give it a go. There were velcro bindings, but apart from that it was very like a snowboard. Which I have never used either, so that's no help.

I bound my feet in an stood at the top of the dune and set off. I went quite slowly then fell over. It was rubbish. The bindings were mostly useless, so that falling over once, means you have to sit there and velcro yourself back in. Meanwhile the girls went down on their bellies. Faster than I started off, I thought. There was a French couple there, who looked very stylish and technical as they went down standing up, but also very slow. At the bottom they confirmed that they were snowboarders when I asked. I walked to the top and I tried standing up again, thinking it might be better if I head straight down, like the people going head first, and it was a bit faster, but I just fell off even faster. It was exhausting walking back up, then I realised that most other people weren't doing it, before the buggy tilted over the crest and came down to meet us, picked us up and took us to a bigger hill.

At the next hill I had one last attempt (I decided) at standing up. It was useless. This time the hill was too big to try again and I just waited with the rest. For the rest of the increasingly large and steep hills, I went head first and it was a lot of fun and very fast if you didn't brake the whole way down. As it got steeper, Joanne and Lucy resorted to screaming the whole way down the slope, despite the fact they were braking the whole way down. Zdenek and I had competitions about who could get furthest by going fastest. Even the French snowboarder conceded that going head-first looked like much more fun and defected to the dark side. His girlfriend pursued her pointless, but elegant standing approach.

Before I really felt like I'd had enough face-first descents, the sandboarding was over. We were buggied to an oasis hidden between the dunes, after following rows of stones lined up together in what absolutely must have been an Inca or pre-Inca road, but nobody pointed it out or mentioned it; this was about fun, not culture. Then we parked up for sunset, in a most unusual place: most of the dunes were empty, but we parked in front of what looked like warehouses or factories; not the most attractive of sunsets. Someone asked a driver what the building were and he responded that they were cocaine factories, hidden in the dunes. I assume he was joking, but you never know.

On the way back to town, we past the main oasis that the town is built around. It smells a bit but it looks nice. Later we went back to the same kitten restaurant because Lucy is mad for cats, especially kittens. Then we got drunk: this was Joanne's goodbye with them.

In the morning, that was it: we had to leave and catch our bus before Lucy and Zdenek were up. Off to Lima!

permalink written by  The Happy Couple on November 18, 2009 from Huacachina, Peru
from the travel blog: Michael's Round-the-World honeymoon
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