So you may remember that I said we were going to leave Lima at 2pm. Well it didn´t happen. The issue was this: somewhere there were some protesters protesting against the expansion of a road and so the public buses to Pisco weren´t running as it was considered too dangerous. The irony is that the government announced 2 days ago that the road was not going to be expanded this year but they were still protesting (maybe they didn´t believe the government had cancelled it). So we waited around for news until 5pm and then it was decided we would leave at 3am as the protesters would be in bed by then.
In the meantime I got to know the remaining people on the trip. Shane and Carina are from Ireland and are spending their honeymoon doing 5 weeks of travelling rather than the usual beach stuff. Tom is from England and believe it or not is also a City fan (rule of Mountain Ash again). Jeremy is from New Zealand. Both of these 2 had previously done a bolt on 1 week tour of Ecuador. Tutenkamen is from Mexico. He originally wanted to go to Egypt but couldn´t get a visa in time.
So I am going to be spending the next 3 weeks with English, Irish, New Zealander and someone who speaks Spanish. Sounds familiar. Fortunately no alcoholics in sight!
So we then all went into Lima with the guide on the public bus which is really a very small minibus. We saw the cathedral, walked down the main shopping street, saw another square and then went to another park which had fountains (it was 50p to get in). Some of them were pretty impressive as they had son-et-lumiere like effects and they had a fountain tunnel you could walk through without getting wet.
We got back about 9pm and then went to the supermarket to get food and drinks for today. We then went and ate and got back to the hotel about 11 so only 3.5 hrs sleep.
So got up again at 3am. We were sharing a bus with another tour who were also stuck and it wasn´t particualrly comfortable or easy to sleep as there were a lot of vibrations (they have no concept of suspension here). I ended up putting my coat against the window and leaning against that but it didn´t help much. As the sun started to rise I could see that we were on a very thin road with the sea on one side and the desert on the other. Much of the coast of Peru is desert except for the river valleys. Lima is apparently the 2nd biggest city in the desert after Cairo.
So about 7-8am we got to the hotel we would have stayed at and had a cup of tea. We then had a choice of staying at the hotel or going on an optional tour of the Ballestas islands. The tour was OK, there were sea lions and penguins and pelicans and some sort of tern. Loads and loads of birds. After a while I got bored though and tried to take a nap.
We next got on a minibus and went to a winery where they make Pisco which is the national drink of Peru. When we were nearly at the winery the bus died a death. Fortunately the other group were near by and there bus was able to pick us up. At the winery we did a tasting session. We tried some wine and some pisco which is 40% proof. Afterwards they showed us how it is made. They stamp the grapes barefoot and apparently the locals reckon the Pisco is better if people don´t wash their feet first (flour for the Pisco).
We then went on the bus with the other group to the Huacachina Oasis in the middle of the desert. There are some massive dunes there including one of the largest in the world nearby. We had lunch and then had a choice to do an optional afternoon of sandboarding (snowboarding on sand) or to lie around the pool instead. I´ll let you work out which one I did. Lets just say it was baking hot day by then and the pool was lovely and cool.
We then left about teatime to get to Nasca. I was in one of the front seats which is not the best as you get a much closer view of the local driving. There was one incident where our bus was overtaking a lorry when the lorry started moving out into our lane so our bus driver had to overtake him on the hard shoulder of the wrong side of the road. Marvellous! The journey was through lots of desert with some green valleys in between. We had a brief view of the Nasca lines at one point.
Tomorrow 3 of us are going for a flight over the Nasca lines. 8am start but that is virtually a lie in! Then we are going to a cemetary and then we have some free time and then a “comfortable” overnight bus to Arequipa. We shall see!