Riding the Sand Storm to Adobe Pyramids at Cahuachi

Unless you visit Nazca or its surroundings between January and March, the weather you will encounter will be sunny and hot, with no clouds to obscure the sun during the day, but bone chilling cold at night.

You can tell by the entire surroundings that this place is baked by the unobstructed sun a lot, and by just visiting outside of the brief rainy season, it’ll all make sense why. Nazca is for all intents and purposes a desert with everything that makes a place a desert.

At 2pm when the Edunas tour was scheduled to start it was an unbearably frying day. At 3 something pm when it factually started, the day was still unbearably frying. Taking a bit of an air in an open “buggy” during the ride to and from the aqueducts was a welcome refresher. But things quickly changed after we started the passage across the vast desert field separating Nazca from the Adobe Pyramids at Cahuachi – ceremonial center of the Nazca culture.

Photo: Gradient Sky Over the Pyramids of Cahuachi
Photo: Gradient Sky Over the Pyramids of Cahuachi

A few minutes into the ride, we were hit by a savage sand storm. The wind came out of nowhere and hit us with so much force, every single one of us had sand in every single orifice and pore. Our driver told us he’s been doing these tours for years, but has never experienced anything like that before. He however encouraged us by saying that the storm will likely pass in maybe 10 or 20 minutes and everything will go back to normal. That actually never happened.

Photo: Tour Goers Holding On to Their Hats While Visiting the Pyramids of Cahiachi
Photo: Tour Goers Holding On to Their Hats While Visiting the Pyramids of Cahiachi

We arrived at the Pyramid, where we were getting relentlessly hammered by the wind so strong we could barely hold our footing. A guide was trying to tell us the history of the pyramid, but no one could hear a word of what he was saying, plus standing in this wind that relentlessly blows sand into you and shows you not a bit of mercy was no fun at all. I remember catching something about only 5% of the entirety of the complex having been uncovered so far. Yet the uncovered part was already expansive.

Photo: Ancient History Within Touch
Photo: Ancient History Within Touch

Being an active archeological site, the visitor walkways were marked with white stones and signs everywhere reminded us all to not wander off marked walkways. Meanwhile, the storm kept pounding the living crap out of us, and whereas our vehicle was an open “buggy“, we had absolutely nowhere to hide from it.

Photo: Faking a Smile While Getting Blasted with High Winds
Photo: Faking a Smile While Getting Blasted with High Winds

The road to the pyramid consisted of about 20 kilometers of an unpaved desert crossing. The storm encompassed the entire desert, so we were within it during the entire crossing, the visit to the pyramid and basically the entire time henceforth.

All those scenes you see in movies about people layng on the ground and covering up with specialty blankets to wait sand storms out, before they emerge from two feet of sand on top of them – that’s what we should have done, but instead kept going.

Photo: White Stones Mark the Walkway at Cahuachi Pyramids
Photo: White Stones Mark the Walkway at Cahuachi Pyramids

You could not keep your eyes open because sand was getting blown into them. Your regular shades are worthless during a sand storm. No matter how tightly you kept your lips together, you could always taste the crunch on your mouth as sand got in there anyway. When I reached into my ear to clean off the collected sand from the ear canal, I was surprised by the thick layer that accumulated in there in minutes. The clothes – I stopped worrying about those very quickly. I could feel sand between my toes as it snuck its way through my hiking boots into the thick sheep wool socks.

Photo: Walls of Ceremonial Center of Nazca Culture at Cahuachi
Photo: Walls of Ceremonial Center of Nazca Culture at Cahuachi

It was simply brutal and I got to say I got more than I bargained for from the tour. How awesome is that? Sure I got the absolute living crap beat out of me, but the whole time I was thinking to myself – holy s%$t, I’m riding a massive sand storm in Nazca, Peru.

Photo: Tallest Structure at Cahuachi
Photo: Tallest Structure at Cahuachi

Money could not buy that experience. I’m in the real desert and the desert sure lets me know she’s indeed real. No joke, this was some serious sand storm and we spent hours in it without any protection, including an hour after dark, when the temperature dropped to near freezing. Talk about adventure in every sense of the word. This I will surely never forget. I’m not even sure the word “relentless” does it justice.

Check out the video that provides a better perspective of what the storm was like. We stopped because we thought the storm would pass. It didn’t. So we rode through it. It would not have been easy getting that on camera:

Organized Tour to Sites Outside Nazca with Edunas

Having returned from the trip to the Mirador in the early afternoon, I was happy with my visit to Nazca. I flew over the enigmatic lines, and also got to see them from up close.

Photo: Traveling Mark at City Sign of Nasca
Photo: Traveling Mark at City Sign of Nasca

I was however not too excited about the proposition to extend my stay in Nazca due to the fact that the availability of fruits in the city is very limited, and they are very expensive. Most expensive from all places I have visited in Peru so far. Being a person who likes his fruits and wants an ample supply each day, this was off putting.

Nevertheless, as I was deciding on whether to stay a bit more in Nazca or make my move elsewhere, I stumbled upon one of the tour agencies that caught my eye. There are many of them all over Nazca, but Edunas somehow felt right.

Under normal circumstances, I would not take an organized tour and would instead get myself to where I want to go the same way I got myself on foot to the airport for the flight over the lines, or to the Mirador by bus.

A brief search on the internet however showed that some of the other interesting sites around Nazca are way too far off to get there on foot, and are also not along paved roads, so the access would have to be in a specialty off road vehicle. Nevermind the fact that the dozens of miles of unmarked passage across the desert can only be done by someone who knows how to navigate the endless dunes.

Photo: The Tour Was Done in This ATV
Photo: The Tour Was Done in This ATV

Edunas had a tour lined up that was to commence at 2pm and last until 6pm. It was in an off-road “buggy” as they called it, and involved visits to Aqueducts of Ocongalla, the Pyramid of Cahuachi, the desert cemetery, and it all got topped off with sandboarding on the Dunes of Cerro Blanco.

The cost the tour was 50 Soles, which I was assured by the agent selling me the tour was a good price. At the time of buying I had no way of knowing whether that’s true or not, but in hindsight I think it was indeed a decent deal. The vehicles take a good deal of beating having to ride on rock covered arid soil, and the distances were truly in the tens of kilometers, 90% of them were off road.

Photo: Terraces of Ocongalla Aqueducts
Photo: Terraces of Ocongalla Aqueducts

Overall I would have been reasonably happy with the tour, but whereas we were told the tour would commence at 2pm, and come 3pm there was hardly any sign of it beginning anytime soon, the first impression was not the greatest. It was only made worse by the lies that the reason the “buggy” has not shown up yet was because it was picking up other tour-goers from their hotels. That was obviously not true, seeing as it showed up (when it finally showed up) without anyone, and the lot of us already at the office got on, and only then we went to pick up the rest from a nearby hotel.

I could have used the time I spent waiting at the Edunas office for something more productive to do, had they been frank and told me the tour would be delayed. And I would have expected them to make up for it by coming to pick me up at a chosen location, or whatever. Instead they were telling me the “buggy” was only 10 minutes away, but every time I asked, it was always 10 minutes away. It ended up being more than an hour and nobody was being picked up during that time.

Photo: Selfie Inside Aqueduct of Ocongalla
Photo: Selfie Inside Aqueduct of Ocongalla

When it finally arrived, we took off but at that time I had no idea that what started as your seemingly plain everyday tour, would turn out to be a major adventure involving wild riding on the storm – quite literally.

Everything went normal during the trip to the Ocongalla Aqueducts, which were an ancient cascading structure that funneled underground water for irrigation and drinking in the area with virtually no surface water.

Photo: Water Inside Ocongalla Aqueducts Is Safe to Drink But Is Used for Irrigation
Photo: Water Inside Ocongalla Aqueducts Is Safe to Drink But Is Used for Irrigation

It was an impressive feat of ancient engineering, planning and thinking and a wonderful showcase of human ingenuity dating back hundreds of years.

Here’s a GoPro video of the ride down the dirt road to the Ocongalla Aqueducts, right outside the city limits of Nazca:

Nazca Geoglyphs of Hands and Tree from Observation Tower

The day after flying over the Nazca lines, I went to the Soyuz bus station to ask if it was possible to take a bus to the “Mirador” – an observation tower made of metal from where two of the Nazca geoglyphs can be observed. The view would not be the same as that from the plane, as it wouldn’t be from directly above, but rather from an angle, but there would be also no moving around the images, so one could really soak up the view, and enjoy the details that can’t be caught during the brief fly over.

Photo: Mirador, or Observation Towar at Two Nazca Geoglyphs
Photo: Mirador, or Observation Towar at Two Nazca Geoglyphs

I wasn’t sure where exactly the Mirador was, nor whether it’s possible to take a bus there, but got good news – the Mirador is right on the PanAmericana Highway, and the PeruBus with the service between Ica and Nazca not only passes by it, it has a stop by it. That meant I passed by it when I was coming to Nazca from Ica without knowing or realizing it.

The bus to Ica, and thus to the Mirador, leaves Nazca every 30 minutes and the trip costs 3 Soles. I bought one and off I went.

It took about 15 minutes for the bus to arrive at the Mirador, which told me the tower was further from the city of Nazca than I thought. The access to the tower costs 3 Soles, and there are several police on site mostly to ensure nobody enters the fields, as it’s now prohibited.

Photo: Geoglyph of Hands with Entry Ticket on Observation Tower
Photo: Geoglyph of Hands with Entry Ticket on Observation Tower

From the tower it is possible to see two geolyphs – Hands and Tree. There is another, less significant image further up from the Tree, which is remarkable by the fact that the highway passes through it and is thus split by the highway.

Photo: Selfie from Nazca Observation Tower with Geoglyph Tree in Background
Photo: Selfie from Nazca Observation Tower with Geoglyph Tree in Background

I really wanted to get on one of the energy driveways and soak up its ancient energy, but the police were really strict about not allowing anyone access and when I got close enough to barely snap a selfie with it behind me, they already sounded their whistles.

Photo: Section of Nazca Geoglyph Tree from Ground Level
Photo: Section of Nazca Geoglyph Tree from Ground Level

Having marvelled at the images for a while, I then boarded a PeruBus that just came from the opposite direction and returned back to Nazca.

Photo: Selfie at Nazca Runways
Photo: Selfie at Nazca Runways

Overall, I thought the trip to the Mirador was worth it when done with a bus. Then it’s not overly expensive and the experience of being so close to two of the main images, and being able to observe their every detail made the whole trip certainly worthwhile. I would recommend everyone visiting Nazca to take the mus to the Mirador, but I would not pay 50 Soles to get there with a taxi.

Video of Flight Over the Nazca Lines with Aerial Views of Geoglyphs

While flying over the Nazca Lines aboard the Aero Paracas plane, I recorded a bit of video with my cell phone, although I mostly used the same phone for taking photos which can be found in this gallery.

The flight consisted of fast swings from one side to another, from tilting sharply to the right to tilting sharply to the left, from moving from one geoglyph to another in order to fit them all into the short flight window, so the opportunities for recording a captivating video were limited at best.

The video contains the take off from the Maria Reiche Neuman Airport with the arid landscape surrounding the city of Nazca, aerial views of a few of the geoglyphs, namely the Astronaut, Monkey, Hummingbird, Spider, Condor, and a whole bunch of energy runways with lesser known images, concluding with the views of the mountains surrounding the geoglyph fields filmed on the return journey back to the airport.

Nazca Lines and Geoglyphs from the Air

The weather in Nazca was great, but that could be expected in the place where it only ever rains in January, February or March. The rest of the year it’s bone dry, which explains why the entire area is either desert, or rigid rock covered dry land on which basically nothing grows.

We took off, and the captain’s assistant informed us that we’ll approach each major Nazca images, from the air and the captain will tilt the plane first right, and then left, so both people sitting on the right and the left get a good view of the geoglyphs. He also informed us that the entire flight would last about 36 minutes.

Photo: Captain and Assistant On Board Aero Paracas Plane in Nazca, Peru
Photo: Captain and Assistant On Board Aero Paracas Plane in Nazca, Peru

The captain did exactly as we were told and took a half circle over each geoglyph with a plane tilted to the right, before doing the same with the plane tilted to the left. This was great for making sure everyone on board gets a good view of the lines, but whereas the low altitude flight in the small plane was already pretty bumpy to begin with, this fast and rapid tilting from one side to the other made for a fast onset of airsickness.

I started feeling it too, but the poor girls who were with me felt it more and quickly went from losing all enthusiasm to take pictures, to grabbing the vomit bags and dumping the contents of their stomachs into them. I felt the whole time like I was never too far from that either, but managed to hold it back with deep breathing. I felt really sorry for the girls. One especially had a very hard time coping with it, which I can imagine totally ruined the whole experience for her. It took her a while to recover even after we got off the plane.

Overall, the flight was amazing and so were the views. The lines extend over a large area, much larger than I thought, and the vastly flat parts containing the images are surrounded by towering vegetation-free hills, making the entire area spectacular to behold. It’s arid, sun fried and wind swept in the most profound ways imaginable.

Photo: Map of Nazca Geoglyphs Visited During Flight with Aero Paracas
Photo: Map of Nazca Geoglyphs Visited During Flight with Aero Paracas

I was glad I caught the last flight of the day. The sun was lower in the sky, offering a deeper dimension to the experience and a less intense head fry. I had good experience flying with Aero Paracas and would recommend the company to anyone. Their equipment is well maintained, pilots well trained and the staff professional. The flight with them was safe and enjoyable, so I ended up giving the flight crew a tip of 10 Soles.

Here’s the gallery of the images I took from the air:

Flying Over Nazca Lines with Aero Paracas

After a night in Posada del Sol, I checked out and headed to the Soyuz bus station to catch a bus to Nazca. The trip cost 10 Soles and lasted about 2.5 hours. The goal was to visit the famous Nazca Lines, and preferably book a flight over them to get some bird’s eye view of the enigmatic geoglyphs.

Photo: There Is a Lot of Spectacular Scenery on the Road from Ica to Nazca
Photo: There Is a Lot of Spectacular Scenery on the Road from Ica to Nazca

I arrived in the afternoon and didn’t mess around with spending too much time looking for accommodation. I booked a room in a hostel near the bus station, rehydrated and took a walk to the airport.

Even though I was well into the afternoon, I thought it would be worth while to go to the airport to at least ask about the prices for flights while speaking with actual operators, not touts at the bus station, and who knew, if I got lucky, I may catch a late day flight deal.

The walk would have been only about an hour long, but I didn’t know the access to the airport is from the back, so I walked all along it from the side of the road, and then had to trace all that distance back to walk around it.

By the time I arrived at the airport, it was already almost 4pm. I asked all the available operators if they had any late night discounts to fill up their last planes, but it was already so late, all operators but one stopped flying for the day.

The one company that hadn’t closed down for the day had one last flight of the day scheduled, and had three people already booked for it. The company calls itself Aero Paracas.

Photo: Aero Paracas Plane with Which I Flew Over Nazca Lines
Photo: Aero Paracas Plane with Which I Flew Over Nazca Lines

The lady at the desk told me I could join the group, and said it would cost $80 US. I negotiated with her for a bit but the best I got from her was a $5 discount. I then told her I was in no rush and had no issue returning back to town from the airport, but whereas I spoke with an operator of a competitor, and she told me she could get me on a flight for $65, but it would be for the following day, had she not lowered the price a bit more, their plane would take off with three people and there would be no extra earnings for them for the day.

She then pretended to make a phone call and told me she could get me the ticket for $70. That I was comfortable with, and paid for it in US dollars.

Photo: Onboard Aero Paracas Plane Before Takeoff
Photo: Onboard Aero Paracas Plane Before Takeoff

The other three passenger who had previously booked the flight were three young Italian girls, who were on a short trip to Peru. I got along well with them, and we all looked forward to taking off over the Nazca Lines.

The last thing to do was the pay 30 Soles airport fee, and pass through metal detector inspection like at any other airport. Then we boarded our 4 seater Cesna plane, buckled up, put on the headsets and with thumbs up, confirmed we’re ready for some airtime.

Photo: Nazca Airport Fee Receipt
Photo: Nazca Airport Fee Receipt

Huacachina – Desert Oasis Near Ica in Peru

Huacachina is the only desert oasis in South America. It is located about 5 kilometers from the city of Ica in Peru. Found in the middle of the coastal desert, the oasis has a lagoon of greenish colors whose origin, it is believed, is caused by the outcrop of groundwater that ended up giving life to the beautiful vegetation that surrounds it.

Photo: Huacachina, Desert Oasis Near Ica, Peru
Photo: Huacachina, Desert Oasis Near Ica, Peru

Like many of the rivers and lakes of Peru, the Huacachina also has part of its charm in a legend. It is said a princess of the Inca lineage lived in that place. Her name was Huacca China and she possessed incredible beauty, as well as a voice so beautiful that her songs melted the hearts of men in such a way that no one could hold back tears.

The legend says that on one occasion when the princess was alone a hunter saw her, was enchanted with her and began to chase her. The princess ran but her costume began to tear and fell off, turning into the sheet of sand that forms the desert around Huacachina. After that, the princess dropped a mirror that she always carried with her and that turned into the lagoon. The princess, the legend maintains, became a mermaid and the inhabitants of Ica tell that even today, that siren keeps appearing on moonlit nights where its song can be heard.

Photo: Statue of Huaca China, Princess Who Gave Birth to Lagoon and Is Said to Dwell In It as Mermaid
Photo: Statue of Huaca China, Princess Who Gave Birth to Lagoon and Is Said to Dwell In It as Mermaid

When I got to Huacachina it was already late afternoon and the entire place was flooded with tourists. I have no idea if it’s busy like that all the time, but the overly touristy feel of the place made me rethink and backtrack on the idea I had before taking the trip, that I would stay over for a night.

It seemed to me that the entirely of buildings erected around Huacachina are either a restaurant, a souvenir shop, or a hotel. In other words, albeit alluring, Huacachina is a tourist trap.

Photo: Huacachina Is a Tourist Trap Overcrowded with Tourists
Photo: Huacachina Is a Tourist Trap Overcrowded with Tourists

The lagoon is small enough to easily walk around on foot, although not the entire circumference is paved. If you want to go around all of it, you’ll get your feet sandy. It’s probably best to take you shoes off and walk on the sand barefoot, because your feet will be buried in it with each step.

The sandy slopes surrounding Huacachuna were full of tourists who either flew kites, glided down on sandboards, or just relaxed on the warm sand. I walked up a sandy slope to snap a few pics of the lagoon, but did not stick around too much. There was simply too much going on with kids running amok, kite lines hitting you in the face, random youths sliding down the sand, making it fall on you and get into your every orifice, so even though the views were spectacular, the place was simply too busy for my liking.

Photo: Boats on Huacachina Lagoon
Photo: Boats on Huacachina Lagoon

Before leaving, I also climbed a small hill of sand with a cross on top of it. The hill is on the side of the road at the beginning of Huacachina coming from Ica. I think that may actually be the only access road to the lagoon.

Photo: Cross at Entrance to Huacachina Overlooking the Lagoon
Photo: Cross at Entrance to Huacachina Overlooking the Lagoon

I’m glad I finished the day with the trip to Huacachina – it’s a great place, definitely worth a visit, but to make any more of it than just pay it a visit for a couple of hours was not worth it for me, because it’s just too overrun with tourists for my taste.

Exploring Ica and Its Surroundings

Having settled well in Ica, resupplied with fruit and water, and overall caught up on sleep, I headed out of the city proper to explore what the areas surrounding Ica have to offer.

Bodega Pampas

I found out on the internet that Ica is famous for its wine, so getting a taste of some was one of my goals. Eventually, my journey brought me to a bodega where not only different wines are made, but also a local liquor called pisco.

Photo: Bodega Pampas in Ica with Clay Containers Traditionally Used in Wine Making
Photo: Bodega Pampas in Ica with Clay Containers Traditionally Used in Wine Making

Called Bodega Pampas, the place has on display its original equipment traditionally used in the wine and liquor making processes. The staff were really nice, and I ended up buying a bottle of Malbec, because that was the driest red wine they had.

Photo: Donkey with Erect Penis Greets Visitors to Bodega Pampas in Ica, Peru
Photo: Donkey with Erect Penis Greets Visitors to Bodega Pampas in Ica, Peru

Witch Market of Cachiche

I then came to a small market of various amulets, semi precious rocks and other souvenirs located in the borough of Cachiche, which was once synonymous with sorcery for many in Peru.

Cachiche, according to the elders of Ica, housed countless women who possessed supernatural powers. The locals mention that these powers served to extirpate the evils of the body and prepare concoctions for various ailments.

They tell that the most famous witch of Cachiche was Julia Hernández Pecho Viuda de Díaz, who died at 106 years of age, after a life full of making spells and concoctions. The witch reportedly predicted that Ica would sink when the seventh head of the Palm of the Seven Heads (Palmera de las Siete Cabezas) grows.

Photo: Sign on Rock Talks About the Witch of Cachiche
Photo: Sign on Rock Talks About the Witch of Cachiche

The grounds where the booths selling souvenirs were set up was dominated by an ancient huarango tree with a horizontal trunk called the “Wish Tree”:

Photo: Wish Tree in Cachiche, Ica, Peru
Photo: Wish Tree in Cachiche, Ica, Peru

Palmera de las Siete Cabezas

Not far from the witch market of Cachiche is a palm tree with its own legends. Called “La Palmera de las Siete Cabezas” (The Palm Tree of Seven Heads), it is special for having a curious shape: six palms that look like snakes are born from the ground, instead of rising upright.

And the seventh? Well, it is always cut off by people before it comes out, since people still believe in what Julia Hernandez said.

Photo: Palmera de las Siete Cabezas in Cachiche, Ica, Peru
Photo: Palmera de las Siete Cabezas in Cachiche, Ica, Peru

Based on what I was told by the locals, no scientist could come up with any explanation for why the palm grows that way, other than that it’s a freak of nature.

Photo: Palmera de las Siete Cabezas
Photo: Palmera de las Siete Cabezas

The highlight of my tour around Ica was a trip to Huacachina – a lush oasis in the sandy desert that this part of Peru is notorious for. It was a perfect end to an amazing day, which deserved the treat I picked up when it all started:

Photo: Malbec Red Wine from Pampas Bodega in Ica, Peru
Photo: Malbec Red Wine from Pampas Bodega in Ica, Peru

Traveling to Ica in Peru

I started the bus ride from Lima to Ica after telling good bye to Isadora and getting to the Soyuz bus station on Mexico Avenue in the nation’s capital. The PeruBus ride cost astounding 55 Soles (I’m telling you, Peru is expensive). The trip took almost 5 and a half hours to complete. Of that, an hour was spent navigating out of Lima’s congested streets. Whereas the bus departed at 3:30pm, by the time we arrived in Ica it was already almost 9pm. Having to walk the streets of the unknown city with sketchy reputation after dark with the backpack on was not encouraging, but there was no turning back – I was already here.

Despite the late hour, the streets of Ica were full of people. Luckily, the guardian angel was by my side and even though I had absolutely no idea where I’m going or where to even go, of all the options I turned in the overall best direction and headed right toward downtown, where there was no shortage of hostels.

Whereas I normally never book a room in the first hostel I walk into, I didn’t feel like returning back outside after finally walking into one. I ended up speding the night in a hostel where I was charged 50 Soles for a private room with private bathroom.

That seemed hella better than what I was quoted in Lima, but it wasn’t until the following day when I realized I was taken advantage of and was heavily overcharged. Nevertheless, I made the decision to stay in the first hostel I walked into, so I accepted it for what it was.

The following morning I went out to compare prices in other hostels, and found out the going rate for the type of room I got was 30 Soles, with more upscale options in nicer hotels going for 40 Soles. Consequently, after the first night I checked into Posada del Sol Hotel, where a single room costs 40 Soles.

Towel from Posada del Sol Hotel in Ica, Peru
Towel from Posada del Sol Hotel in Ica, Peru

After changing the hotel, I went for a walk. The downtown park was called Parque de Armas, much the same as in Lima. I then realized that virtually every bigger town in Peru names its downtown park Parque de Armas.

The one in Ica was nothing too spectacular, but a number of people in red vests stationed around the park exchange money from US dollars, and wheres that’s precisely what I needed, I took advantage of it and get some changed. The rate was slightly lower than in Lima’s exchange offices, but given the 3% commission money changers charge in Lima, I got more out of the buck in Ica.

Parque de Armas in Ica Seen Through Fisheye Lens
Parque de Armas in Ica Seen Through Fisheye Lens

While I was at Parque de Armas, a procession with a lot of policemen participating and a brass band passed by. I thought at first this was a funeral, but what they carried was not a casket. Not sure what this was all about.

Police Procession Beside Plaza de Armas in Ica, Peru
Police Procession Beside Plaza de Armas in Ica, Peru

About 5 blocks from Parque de Armas I found a market where I picked up a bunch of fruit. The whole area was very sketchy and I got warned a number of times by various people to be very careful around there. At the end of the day, perhaps because I was being very careful, I encountered no issues and had nothing stolen.

Fruit I picked up in Ica was much like fruit I bought in Lima – tasteless. They did however have my favorite fruit to which I was introduced in Ecuador – cherimoya – so all in all I was a happy camper.

Ica was also a pleasant change from Lima in that when the morning came, it was bright and sunny. The whole time I was in Lima it was overcast and miserable, so the lovely weather of Ica truly made my day. It was indeed so nice outside, after familiarizing myself with the town proper, I made the decision to go further out to visit what the area has to offer. I did not know what kind of weather I was gonna get in the following days, so taking advantage of beautiful sunshine felt like the right thing to do. And indeed, it was.

Lost in Lima with Brazilian Girl

After returning from a walk up and down Miraflores, I went to my dorm, took a shower, washed my clothes in cold water, put earplugs in and hit the bed.

I woke up around 3am, but stayed in bed until 8am to catch the complimentary breakfast Pool Paradise provides their guests. It consisted of what could have been one, maybe two eggs scrambled, two bread buns, a banana and a glass of orange juice. Tea and coffee were also available.

The checkout was at noon, and whereas I knew I was leaving Lima, I decide to check out after breakfast, put on my backpack and head downtown to visit some of its old quarters before I leave the city for good. I did not want to do it knowing I’d have to return to Miraflores in the city’s awful traffic in order not to miss the checkout, which is why I had to do it all with my backpack on.

In August it’s winter in Peru, so ever since I arrived, the sky was overcast and it was rather cool – around 14 degrees centigrade during the day. The hazy conditions also brought rain, but it was the type of rain that sogs everything, but you can hardly see any drops fall to the ground. The humidity is super high the whole time, but I found the weather suitable for walking with a load on my back because it’s not overly hot, so you don’t sweat the whole time, but it’s neither cold, so you’re not freezing your buns off either.

When I was checking out of Pool Paradise, I met a Brazilian girl named Isadora. A resident of Sao Paolo, she was also getting ready to do the tour of downtown Lima, but she didn’t take all her belongings with her, as she planned to return to the hostel to continue her stay. We hit it off really good right from the start, and went downtown together.

We left Miraflores in a Metropolitano bus. It costs 2.50 Soles per ride and is paid upon entering the area from within which a bus can be boarded. The bus identified with a letter C connects Lima’s downtown with Miraflores. That’s what we took.

Selfie at Plaza San Martin in Lima, Peru
Selfie at Plaza San Martin in Lima, Peru

We first visited Plaza Jose Marti, who’s considered the liberator of Peru. We took a few pictures there and headed toward Plaza del Armas, where the presidential building is located. Behind its gates a brass band in full military attire was playing. The whole area had a strong military presence, with a number of soldiers armed with rifles, several policemen with spooky looking canines scanning the area, and armored vehicles parked on corners.

Cathedral of Lima Located on Side of Plaza de Armas
Cathedral of Lima Located on Side of Plaza de Armas

There was a group of school kids that walked past us while at Plaza de Armas, who were so excited to see a white man, they got in chat with me and really wanted to take a picture.

Group Pic with Lima School Kids, Isadora Snapped It
Group Pic with Lima School Kids, Isadora Snapped It

From there we headed toward Plaza Simon Bolivar, with a building of the Peruvian Congress behind the statue of the other Peru’s liberator. But first we made a brief stop in the Choco Museum, where Isidora bought a few chocolates to take home as presents for friends.

With Isadora in Choco Museo
With Isadora in Choco Museo

We then made a stop at Basilica and Convent of San Francisco – a church within which there are catacombs filled with skulls and bones. The access to the catacombs is paid and picture taking is prohibited, so we decided against paying for that access.

Church of San Francisco Which Contains Entrances to Catacombs
Church of San Francisco Which Contains Entrances to Catacombs

Afterward we walked a little bit more toward an overcrowded market with fruits, meats and fish (the type I lacked in Miraflores), where I bought half a kilo of mandarin oranges. They were all incredibly bland and tasteless. It made me really miss Ecuador where fruits were delicious and juicy.

Gutted Animal for Sale at Market in Lime
Gutted Animal for Sale at Market in Lime

From the market it was just a bit more walk to an adjacent China town, where I bought Palo Santo from a very nice woman with Shamanic training. I will write a post about Palo Santo later.

Floor of China Town in Lima Is Adroend with Tiles Bearing Names Like Hollywood Handprints
Floor of China Town in Lima Is Adroend with Tiles Bearing Names Like Hollywood Handprints

Having concluded we’ve covered enough of Lima’s downtown, we decided to wrap it up and pace our way back toward a Metropolitano bus stop. I was gonna take it a few stops to Avenida Mexico, near which I found out there’s a bus terminal with buses going to Ica, and Isadora would carry on over several more stops back to Miraflores.

We however got lost along the way, and found ourselves in a shanty town area with a lot of shady characters and no police in sight. We have not encountered any problems, but had no idea where we were nor where to find a Metropolitano bus stop. A few people we asked provided conflicting information as to which way to go to find one.

Eventually, after crossing a bridge, we saw a traffic police and got some reliable pointers. As we walked toward the station along a busy street, we passed multiple sellers of Palo Santo and other incenses and tools for shamanic rituals, so I bought a baggie of myrrh, frankincense and copal resins to use with my earlier bought Palo Santo for deactivation of negative energies and evil spirits that may have latched on me.

Bridge We Crossed in Hopes It Would Lead Us to Metropolitano Station, But Took Us Way Off Instead
Bridge We Crossed in Hopes It Would Lead Us to Metropolitano Station, But Took Us Way Off Instead

After a busy day together, having also got lost in Lima, I parted ways with Isadora, with a promise that we’ll stay in touch, and a hope we’ll meet and hang out again.

At Avenida Mexico I asked which way the terminal for buses to Ica was, and bought a ticket for a 3:30 bus, which I boarded and left Lima. The trip lasted 5 hours, and I was unlucky to have a guy sitting behind me who spent the whole 5 hours yapping his head off on the phone. I never wished more for a meteorite to blow up half of the bus before.