Having endured a month in Villa Maria where Beer, a miscellaneous vodka & orange drink and bottles of rum had been the only alcohol available (except when Family Leechman supplied Smirnoff-always appreciated), a night of debauchary was definitely in need when we got to Miraflores. The group didn´t fail to step up. The night started early with mixes supplied by Vivanda (supermarket extraudinaire)..and ended early for some (special mention to Vicks who manager to drunkenly fallover the “uneven” cobblestones and was rendered too injured to walk let alone dance). However, those of us who did make it out hit the bars with some gusto, especially those who spent the entire night chatting to the group of English guys who were staying at our hostel. Special mention to Zoe….
Next stop was Pisco, which we arrived at after a mere 5 hour stint in the bus: the groups favourite mode of transport. However, our hardship was duly rewarded when we arrived at the hostel we were staying at. Marble floors and sofas in the lobby have never instigated so much excitement before, and that was prior to the discovery of fluffy (well kind of) towels and HOT showers! Fred, Sarah and I stepped up and christened the town with Pisco Sours…it had to be done!
Next morning we left heaven hostel early to set off to the Ballestas islands ( or poor mans galapagos). The boat ride took us round to see the Candelabra imprint in the sand, seals and penguins, but it has to be said what REALLY made the tour was the guide whose voice had an uncanny resemblance to Borat. His instinence that there was to be â€¢no smohkin on board” being one of the most enjoyed of his warnings.
After the Ballestas we headed off to Huaccachina where we were set to go Sand boarding and Dune buggying. However, excitement started even before we made it on the buggys as Fred during the few hours we had unsupervised managed to break the key for our room in half. No easy feat. A slighltly bashful Fred came stumbling towards us while we were relaxing by the pool only to produce the now useless half key and mumble about poor craftmanship as he made a comparison to tin foil. The metal key was CLEARLY not strong enough…hmmm. However, after Freds mishap was solved we trundled off in the sand buggys to give sand boarding a go. Perhaps trundled is not the most accurate word to use in fact, considering that the buggys reached speeds of around 120mph! It was amazing how fast those wheeled cages can go and an incredible experience to literally dive off massive sand dunes at such high speeds! After whizzing around for a while we stopped and got our boards ready for our first go, most people went down on their stomachs at great speeds a few others choosing the wimpier option to dig their feet in the sand as they go down to break (including myself). By the end though the majority of people tried going down standing-we were pretty much pros at the end of it…almost. After going down a couple more dunes we zoomed off in the buggys to catch the sunset over the chicken farms. Not both buggys actually made it to the sunset but apparantly the view was amazing (bar the chicken farms which didn’t quite create atmosphere).
Next day we headed off to catch our flights over the Nazca lines in the smallest planes Ive ever seen-planes of three plus the pilot- definitely an experience. The actual plane journeys were pretty cool though and we all appreciated the massive pilot headphone look..always atttractive. We saw the lines about four times each, tipping and swerving as necessary but this was not without some of the group contracting flight sickness. It was a little concerning as being so wrapped in taking photos outside the window Alex and I turned around to see Anya in the back sweating profusely, and a worrying shade of green…it was clear she wasnt feeling her best. However, the pilot got a TAD too concerned and insisted immediately after landing that she be wheeled off into the distance in a wheelchair. Clearly to the others watching it was a somewhat worrying scene. Charlie Girl in a slightly less dramatic landing also started feeling a little worse for wear and insisted that it was the worst flight of her life. Have to say though the rest of us enjoyed it, even Charlie Boy who with a slight fear of heights and small planes had been marginally concerned about the combination before.
After the flights we headed straight to Nazca lines to get supplies for the camping that night and then went to the beach to set up camp. The campsite was right next to a hotel (perfect for loo facilities and secret coffees and teas) and absolutely stunning. It was completely secluded except for us and was an amazing setting for a BBQ with the sound of the sea in the background. The romance of the setting however was slightly marred by the fact we were all donning the head torches and eating out of tupperware. However, the fact we were eating steak off a BBQ in the middle of a beach was pretty cool (always an advantage that Rob used to be a chef). The night ended with marshmallows over the camp fire and a classic game of werewolf.
The next day was really relaxed, mostly involving paddling in the sea and sunbathing. Except of course for the boys who decided to go on a walk and track down bones and ruins. Clearly the idea of relaxing on the beach was just not masculine enough for them..After packing up our tents we then embarked on a 1.8km HIKE up the hill to catch our bus to Arequipa. All except for a rather smug Charlie Boy who having felt a little worse for wear all weekend got his ticket out of Jail free card with a truck ride up the hill with all the bags. He claimed later he felt guilty passing us sweating like beasts as we hiked up but to the rest of us it looked a little bit too much like the cat that got the cream…When we reached the summit of the mountain (despite what Rob/Emily may claim it was DEFINITELY a mountain) we ended up waiting for the bus for a while. The potential of Rob and Emilys children was much discussed (with some concern it would spend its life trekking) along with some harmless day dreaming about the bus that was arriving. Why shouldnt the bus have a trolley with food and snacks passed out lavishly? Rob was clearly not impressed as he insisted we were being a little optimistic…The bus was worth the wait….comfy reclining seats, english films (including 7 pounds, just like heaven and The Mummy 3 (the latter two not quite so well recieved)) and to our delight A TROLLEY! In fact the food we got was pretty amazing bearing in mind it was on a bus…however Sarahs claim it was some of the best beef she had had on the trip was still highly concerning…..Even after seven hours though the sleepy group was a little reluctant to get off…a successful bus ride you could say, especially as we had now arrived in Arequipa: which even by night you could tell was really beautiful.