Deserts, Desserts, and More

Last weekend, a few of my American friends and I decided to take a short trip south of Lima to the town of Ica and Huacachina.  Huacachina is a tiny oasis in the middle of the desert that is a popular spot for tourists, and is right next to Ica.  It is quite picturesque, but unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera.  Therefore, if you are impressed by the photography in this post, the credit goes to my friends who graciously agreed to let me use their photos.

We headed down to Ica via bus on Saturday morning, arriving in Ica around noon.  One of my favorite things about these bus rides is the movies.  For some reason, the bus companies only seem to have these weird (and bad) American movies that still somehow are filled with recognizable celebrities.

Anyway, when we got to Ica, we ate lunch before heading out on a dune buggy/sandboarding adventure.  We were driven in a dune buggy all over the dunes that surround the oasis, getting some beautiful views of the little town and miles and miles of sand all around.

DUNE BUGGY PIC

After driving to the top of the dunes, we got to sandboard (think snowboarding but on sand) down.  Seeing as I have never snowboarded before (I’m more of a skier), I had limited success in remaining on my feet, so I switched to the easier laying-down version of sandboarding, which required much less coordination.  It was really fun and we even got to see the sunset over the dunes.

I am definitely not in the process of falling during this picture.
I am definitely not in the process of falling during this picture.

Although I had a lot of fun out on the dunes, I have to say that I was reminded strongly of last semester and our trip to Wadi Rum in Jordan.  While Huacachina was quite fun, it doesn’t compare to the sweeping red sand and rock formations combined with the amazing history of Wadi Rum.  Plus, camel rides beat sandboarding in my book.

The next day, we went on a wine and pisco (a popular type of brandy that Peru is famous for) tour to see local bodegas where they produce the drinks.  It was fun to see how it was all made and to talk with the owners about the history and culture behind the bodegas.

We headed back to Lima that evening, after checking out tiny local chocolate factory.  Although we had some mishaps with the bus home, everyone made it back in one piece (eventually).

Since I have been back in Lima, I have spent a good amount of time doing schoolwork.  We have midterms next week, which means that classes are suspended for the week like finals week in Madison.  Although I only have two, I have quite a bit of reading for both, so I’ve been working through that.

I’ve still had the opportunity to do some other cool things in Lima.  A Peruvian friend from one of my classes invited me to her house for lunch one day, so I was able to try duck with rice for the first time.  It was really delicious.  I have to say, since I’m staying in an apartment here, I really do miss the cooking of my host mom in Jordan, so it was nice to finally have a homemade meal that I didn’t prepare.  They said that they may invite me back for guinea pig (which is a Peruvian delicacy), so I’m crossing my fingers on that.

I also have taken up surfing here.  Obviously, being from the Midwest, I have not had a lot of chances to surf, but there is a good beach for surfing in Lima, so several other international students and I have been trying to go weekly to take advantage of this chance.  I took a lesson one time, but now I am just renting equipment and practicing.  Although surfing looks pretty effortless, it requires a lot of strength, timing, and coordination.  I think I am improving though, and I know I’m enjoying it.

I also went to the Festival of Sweets in Lima, where I tried a bunch of different desserts including frozen cheese (very similar to ice cream) and a quinoa-based item that was very similar to flan.  I also ended up buying some artisanal cheese, which I thought was fantastic.  Cheese is probably my favorite food (it may have influenced my decision to attend school in Wisconsin), so that was the highlight of the fair for me.

Afterward the dessert fair, we headed to Art Lima, the first international art fair in Peru.  It was really impressive.  Although I would never claim to be an art expert, I really enjoyed the fair because there were a lot of really cool and innovative pieces, such as a sculpture of a gumball machine made from hanging buttons on strings or Mickey Mouse painted on top of actual computer mice.

 Two of the button sculptures.
Two of the button sculptures.

I hear the weather is finally turning around in Wisconsin.  Although part of me misses sitting out on the Union Terrace in the spring, I have to say the fact that I’m going surfing in a couple days really takes the edge off.  Lake Mendota’s got nothing on the Pacific Ocean.

1 thought on “Deserts, Desserts, and More”

  1. Nicky, I don’t know how you keep up the pace with everything that you’re doing. I get tired just reading about it. Sounds like you are haviing the time of your life. Sheila and I just got back from a week in Cancun, had a wonderful time but still working on getting some energy to get the Spring yard work done.

    Nice hearing from you and you take care.

    Love Rosie

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