I spent a couple more days in Cusco after the big trek to Machu Picchu, and continued to meet a lot of really cool people back at Loki. I met my first other longterm American traveler (and then another one — from Alabama of all places! — in Huacachina as well), as well as my first group of Swedes (professional poker players!).
Then I had a 16 hour bus ride to Ica, where a short taxi ride brought me from a big ugly city to a tiny oasis. It was amazing to leave the city and suddenly see these huge sand dunes appear. I checked into my hostel, Casa de Arena, and headed out to explore the city. That took about 10 minutes. The city is basically a lagoon in the center of the sand dunes, with a few stores/restaurants/hostals around it. I walked around the lagoon twice and then didn’t know what to do with myself!
There was one good thing about my hostel: it had a big pool in the middle of it with a bunch of lounge chairs. There were some bad things about my hostel: it didn’t have anything else. No TV room or anything, and the bar with pool tables, etc. didn’t open until 8pm. So I spent the entire afternoon out by the pool, starting and half finishing a book. I eventually started talking with the aforementioned guy from Alabama and a British guy, and eventually we moved inside and played cards for a while once it got chilly and the mosquitoes started to come out. At 8 the bar opened and had an all-you-can-eat BBQ so things got more social then.
The next day I’d planned to go sandboarding, but I was feeling a bit sick and I actually injured myself the day before — I literally tripped and got a big gash on my face, so my face was still hurting! I spent another day sitting by the pool, and in the evening I went out to dinner while everyone else was sandboarding and actually ran into the Swedish guys from Cusco again.
Next morning I was off to catch a bus to Lima, where I met up with a Swiss guy I had met in Cusco. We walked around Miraflores and down to the coast. Lima is an interesting city. Well, interesting but at the same time not really. It’s strange because you totally forget you’re in a coastal city until you’re right at the coast. You can’t really feel it or smell it in the air. Suddenly you just find yourself at this big outdoor mall overlooking the sea. And it feels so American. There are American fast food places and chain restaurants and stores everywhere you turn.
Today I was still feeling a bit under the weather, but I ventured out to Huaca Pucllana, some ruins on the edge of Miraflores. I was the only English speaking tourist there so I had my own personal guide around the ruins, which was interesting. It’s an interesting places, and they are still excavating it as the Lima people had actually covered much of the original structure with dirt and rock.
I’m spending a few days in Lima just to fully recover (why is it that I’ve only gotten sick and injured in Peru?!) and also I’d like to be here for Halloween so I can celebrate it a bit!
Huacachina: Casa de Arena – 15-20 soles/night for large dorm (if you go sandboarding with them it’s only 15) – there aren’t many options in Huaca so I’d recommend this place. At least it always has a lot of people staying there and a decent pool and bar. The rooms and bathrooms leave much to be desired, but most people are only there a day or two so it’s really not a big deal.
Lima: Pariwana Hostel – 27 soles/nt for big dorm – It has all the conveniences you’d want in a hostel, but doesn’t seem to have a lot of people or a great social atmosphere. It has potential, but I will probably switch hostels tomorrow.