Link Buttons

facebook photo facebook_zps8c150d99.png twitter photo twitter_zps9eb28ac1.png instagram photo instagram_zpscce1d496.png pinterest photo pinterest_zpsc20b6b76.png linked in photo linkedin_zpsa43a0921.png email photo mail_zps86d6ee14.png

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sandboarding the Huacachina Oasis

The first week in Peru ended in a bang as my fellow volunteers, Julio and myself bought our bus tickets for a small but epic trip to the Ica Province. Three martial art films later we arrived in Huacachina Oasis. The Huacachina Oasis is a mysterious lake in the midst of the Ica desert’s white sands. To my utter suprise the temperature is much warmer then Lima with the sun fully out, sharing its rays with us. I knew as soon as we had arrived that the time spent here would be memorable because the oasis was something I had never seen before. The legend of the Huacachina Oasis goes that a beautiful young princess was caught bathing by a hunter, when she fled, she left behind a pool of water that became the lake and the gown she wore fell behind her and became the dunes and sand. She is said to still live in the lake as a mermaid. Learning the legend increased our interest in the dunes and made sand boarding the first activity on the agenda. After checking into El Huacachinero we signed up and paid 45 soles for the adventure of a lifetime.

While climbing into the Dune Buggie an excited male tourist comes up to Lani and I and says with a grin, “Bless you all, don’t break a limb”. We looked at each other in disbelief then instantly noticed the seatbelts and how they modeled it like child’s car seat. Barely strapped in, the driver zoomed off toward the dune, with adrenaline pumping and excitement peaked we felt like we were on a roller coaster. At one point I commented to Lani and Christina how this job cannot possibly get boring, driving through the dunes with the wind on your face. Our driver seemed like he enjoyed his job and had a great many facts to share with us about the area. The driver was going at top speed and suddenly stopped at the top of a dune. At first I thought maybe he had to turn around or it was a viewpoint. The stop was only for us to realize what we were up against. The milliseconds of that stop were enough to make everyone yell with excitement as he stepped on the gas and plunged down the tremendous dune.

The drive through the desert was exhilarating. Speeding up and zooming down the dunes and the sharp turns. When the driver would stop we would all file out the vehicle, grab a board and surf down a dune. At first when I grabbed the board I sat on the edge questioning if I had the courage to just surf down. Sitting on the edge, I was having flashing scenarios in my head of how wrong this could turn out: flipping down a mountain or landing face first. I finally decided to just go and what a rush it was. Although I did fall, I was psyched to go down a view more slopes and we did. The amount of time spent in the desert was much more then expected but flew by like the speed of lighting as it was all thoroughly enjoyed.

At sundown we stopped to marvel at the sky and the beautiful colors in the horizon. Sitting next to Christina, Lani and Julio and watching the sun go down was the moment of reflection and the main thought was how lucky I am to be with such a fiery group of people that I can really learn from. Volunteer programs, such as this one, are a great way to meet people with similar interests as yourself and grow through the experiences you share. Our trip on dune buggies and sand surfing was a great way for us to bond. Sharing laughs of Julio’s failed attempts at surfing down the mountain or yelling in unison with shear excitement while flying down the side of a dune visiting the Huacachina Oasis is a must.
Anastacia is a volunteer for Karikuy and writes for Perupedia.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Killer Pisco Sours and Karikuy

Four cities and 34 hours later I stand in Jorge Chávez International Airport lugging around my over packed bags While bombarded by taxi drivers asking me if I need a ride my Spanish was tested for the first time as I tell them “estoy esperando por mis amigos”, “Im waiting for my friends”. Gosh, just that simple utterance requires a thought process completely impossible for a sleep deprived barely fluent Spanish speaker. Well, after 10 minutes I see 2 very friendly faces and know that Julio and Christina, a fellow volunteer, have arrived to take me to the home I will inhabit for the next 2 months, I’m thrilled to see my bed. While on the car ride to Planeta, the area in Central Lima in which we will be living, excitement replaces my exhaustion as I peer out the windows taking in everything Lima has to offer.
The homes in Lima are colorful and it seems people really try to be different in the design of their homes. The colors and designs vary from house to house and you cannot help but stare at each one. Our humble abode is a off white with a balcony on the seconded floor where ‘Killer’, the friendliest dog around, resides. I can estimate 10 minutes when I was around and about getting a small tour of the house then went straight for a well-deserved nap.

I was awoke several hours later by persistent knocks at my bedroom door and I knew exactly what they meant, Dinner. My first Peruvian meal consisted of 2 courses. The first was potato in a cream sauce and the second was chicken on a bed of seasoned spaghetti. Dinner was amazing and just what I need to fuel a few hours night out in the heart of Lima. The highlight of the night was sitting down at the recommended Pisco Palace, "La Catedral de Pisco", and sipping on my first Pisco Sour. After walking through Jiron de la Union into la Plaza de Armas and spending some time hanging out on the square with the night view of the President’s Palace we climbed into a cab with home as the destination and a well deserved night of sleep.

My initial days in Peru have been filled with new experiences and I cannot wait for what I have in store. I do know a few things now: my Spanish is not as bad as I thought and Julio’s eight year-old niece will be a great aid in my newly acquired Spanish fluency. Vacations can be boring but volunteering for half of the summer in Peru is the best way to gain experience writing while seeing the sights and getting away from the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia.
Anastacia is a volunteer with the Karikuy volunteer program, to learn more or apply for a position click here