I spent Thanksgiving with three of my closest volunteer friends traveling around the Peruvian desert. We arrived in Ica, five hours south of Lima, and headed to Huachachina, an oasis smack in the middle of the desert. Picture a small Laguna (lake) encircled by a tiny town composed of restaurants and hostels, entirely surrounded by sand dunes. In Huachachina we busied ourselves attempting to sandboard (most attempts ended in burns from the hot sand, small wounds, and a big head rush) and flying across the sand dunes in a dune buggy.
From Huanchachina we headed further south to the Nazca lines. The lines are a series of animal etchings in the sand from millions of years ago. To this day the theories abound on why the lines exist. Reasons include: irrigation, religious sacrifice, even an alien presence. Because the lines are so enormous they are almost impossible to see unless you fly over them.
We flew over the lines in a four-person plane. We soon learned flying in tiny aircraft is not for anyone with a queasy stomach. Fortunately, none of us have queasy stomachs. Unfortunately, due to the lack of food at the small Nazca airport we had a round of beers instead of lunch.
Before we headed back to Lima, we stopped in Paracas, a small beach town famous for Las Islas Ballestas: a group of islands populated with hundreds of bird species, sea lions, and penguins. We took a small motorboat out to the islands and spent an hour boating around the islands getting mere feet away from the animals.
Before the trip came to an end I insisted on taking my friends to the only Bioferia (organic farmers market) in Lima. What a great decision! The market, several blocks long, consisted of various fruit and veggie vendors, organic tea and coffee growers, dairy farmers, and our favorite a few of Lima’s delicious organic restaurants selling their local grub. A great end to the trip!