Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Our Paracas, Peru Trip - Thursday, October 10 through Saturday, October 12, 2013

The morning of Thursday, October 10 dawned just as overcast and dreary in Lima as it had been the week before. We were up very early for our pickup at 6:50 am to go to the bus terminal for our 4.5 hour ride south, and hopefully, more sun and a warm visit to Paracas, right on the Pacific Ocean.

We had booked this very personalized trip through our new friend, Liliana Merino, who owns Viracocha tourism Internacional, a tour company located in Lima, Peru. We had met her on our Quito, Ecuador city bus tour. Meeting people and having opportunities open for you is what traveling is all about. This happen stance meeting added such value to our journey!  She and her staff put together this trip just for us. We were not part of a tour group but had personal drivers that coordinated everything for us!  All we had to do was show up!  And, we almost blew it the very first morning because I had put the wrong time into my memory data bank. Please, if you're thinking of traveling in South America, think of Viracocha. You may contact them at peruviantours@viracocha.com.pe. 

Some quick goodbyes at breakfast and out to the lobby to meet our driver. Only when we got there, we found out that he'd been waiting since 6:00 am for us, as we had been booked on the 7am bus rather than the 7:30am bus that I thought. So off we went as fast as possible in rush hour traffic in a city of 9.5 million people, which means it wasn't fast at all!!

The bus, of course, was gone when we arrived but we were able to buy more tickets at a cost of $10 each for the 7:30 am bus. Problem solved! And, we were quickly boarded and comfortable in a truly luxury double decker bus with attendant and food & drink service right on board!  

The whole trip was along the coast of the Pacific Ocean and it got drier and drier as we headed south. And, when I say dry, I mean NO vegetation at all. Only brown sand and dirt!  Sometimes mounds and hills of it but absolutely nothing else to look at mile after mile.


The other thing we observed was the housing in extremely small shanties with very little roofing. I guess roofing isn't a big deal when you maybe get 1mm, that's .o4 inches, of water a year!! No wonder there's nothing green!!  When I speak of shanties and the apparent extreme poverty, one must realize that the lack of money doesn't mean poverty if all of your needs are met and you are loved. So I don't know if it's real poverty or just a lack of money. A distinction that needs to be made as I'm making no judgement here just an observation on a visual basis.

We arrived at our bus terminal for disembarking but it was the most rural rudimentary terminal we've been to yet!  A thatched roofed structure on the side of the road with nothing but dirt and sand around it. However, it was the most organized and most secure for luggage that we've encountered. We were told a new station was being built because of the increase in tourism. 

So after quickly getting our luggage, we were loaded into a van and whisked away around the corner. Our new hotel, the San Augustin, literally was across the street on the back side if the station but because of the sand and dirt, it would be very difficult to get to, so we felt pampered!  A quick check in and we were ushered into our beautiful lush pool/ocean/beach view room. OMG! After being cold and really cold for 5 weeks, it felt awesome to be somewhat warm and back on the ocean! 

It didn't take long and we were in our suits and in the sun and pool. Well, only up to my knees because it was still chilly water for me. Then a nice drink and a bit of lazing on the chaise in the sun. Yup, so good for the soul!

Dinner was included, as well as breakfast, so at 7pm sharp, we were seated in the large dining room. This hotel is all white and very modern with straight lines and minimal furnishings. It was quite a nice contrast to all of the old colonial we've seen for weeks. Very pleased with the dinner choices and a view of the ocean. We tucked in early because we needed to be up and ready for a full day of touring on Friday, Octber 11. 

Friday dawned gorgeous!!  Warm and totally clear!  That's actually pretty rare and it can take half a day to burn off. But, we had PERFECT weather for our excursions!  First, we were again whisked away in a van that took us only 2 minutes down the road to the main square at the malecon where the pier is. 

We boarded a boat for 35, with life jackets on, and headed toward the point across from us. The water was beautifully calm here in the bay, so it was a smooth ride to see the cliffs and then the ultimate, The Candelabra!  This massive carving in the volcanic rock was done approximately in 500 AD and is massive!!  They're still not sure as to why it's there. It is magnificent!

Continuing on, we headed out into the open ocean water toward the Islas Ballenetas. As we got out, the water became very choppy and because we were in the front, we got slammed pretty hard several times. Not great on the backs!!  So if you ever go, sit further back in the boat and it you won't feel it quite so hard. 

It was all worth it!! We came up these wonderful volcanic rock islands that had Penguins.  Yes, Penguins!!  So adorable!!  Watching them waddle around sunning themselves was way cool! Then moving a little further, we encountered sea lions lazing about with their young, red footed boobies, red footed cormorants, and a few others.  A fabulous exhibition of wildlife on these several islands!

What I can't embed in this blog was the incredible, awful STENCH that was a result of all the thousands of birds on the islands!! Truly awful!!  As a result of all of this bird shit or guano, as it's called, it is currently being mined every couple of years as a natural fertlizer. Truly natural!

Once back to the pier, Mike and I stayed on the Malecon to have some lunch, walk down the Malecon, and shop at the vendors.  I was determined to find a sleeveless top with the Peru Logo, which I love!  Mission accomplished!

Back at the hotel by 12:40pm for our pickup, again, to take us to the Pisco airport where we were to catch our flight in a 12 passenger airplane for our 1.5 hour flight above the Nasca Lines.  What are they, you ask?  If you haven't heard about them, please take some time to look them up.  It's something Mike and I really wanted to see and the only real way to appreciate them is by air.

These are figures and lines that have been drawn in the earth centuries ago. No one knows by who or why for sure.  One theory is by aliens visiting earth long ago - seriously!  And, after you see them, you must wonder.  They are huge and incredible!!  A dream come true for us to be able to see them up close and personal like this.  Another truly awesome experience!!

Once back down, we were shuttled back to our hotel where we lounged around in our room and on our balcony until dinner.  All in all, a superb day!

On Saturday, October 12, we slept late and enjoyed taking it easy until we needed to pack up and check out by 12:30pm.  As our driver wasn't picking us up until 2:40 to take us back to the bus station, we decided to walk further down along the coast road past the Malecon to see what there was to see.  

We thought our place was the cat's meow until we stumbled into a truly 5 star resort.  We came in from the event location and the gates were open so we just kept going like we belonged there.  To us, if gates are open, it's an invitation to come in - so we do.  Well, let me tell you this place was opulent so after walking around a bit, we decided it was time to leave and head back to the Malecon for lunch before having to go back to Lima.

Another 4.5 hour bus ride and then a half hour drive to our hotel by the airport, the Mahattan Inn, via our driver, Alex.  We spent the night here where there was no place to go to have dinner and the "bar" at the hotel had beer but no wine. Although in a neighborhood, it wasn't safe to go walking, so we stayed in our room. Not a big deal since we had to be up early for our shuttle over to the airport and a departure at 10:45am.

When searching and making our flight reservations to go from Lima, Peru to our next destination of Granada, Nicaragua, we found that if we flew in separate "legs" from Lima to Ft. Lauderdale, FL, spent 2 nights, and then flew to Managua, Nicaragua, saved a ton of money!!  Our flight from Lima to Ft. Lauderdale (5.5hrs) was only $265/each on Spirit Airlines.  And, then on Spirit a 2hour direct flight to Managua was only $93/each. 

Spirit is a discount carrier that charges for baggage depending on its weight and how many bags to have.  Mike and I had gotten our check in baggage weight down to 40 lbs for our flight from Ecuador to Peru already, so that was no issue for us.  And, we were able to stuff our extra "personal" bags (his camera bag & my purse) into our backpacks so that they then became our "personal" bags and we didn't have to pay for a carry on.  So there!  The flights ended up being a total of $740 for both of us.  Even when you add in the 2 nights in the hotel, we saved a fortune.

So, our journey continues and it will be an interesting next couple of months getting back to a "normal" routine of living somewhere for a month and not being on the go every day. So looking forward to that, actually.

1 comment:

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