Huacachina has to be the most bizarre resort town I've ever seen. Resorts are usually situated on tropical beaches: but Huacachina — just outside the city of Ica on the coast of Peru — is a tiny collection of resorts that hug a little lagoon oasis, and that is otherwise completely surrounded by massive sand dunes. Anyway, very pleasant and very relaxing place to hang out, after a hectic trip along the gringo trail.
Since today was my last complete day in Huacachina, I decided to not spend the entire day relaxing by the pool, and to make the most of it by getting in some more sandboarding. The last sandboarding day in Huacachina was wicked, and I've been itching to do some more. So I hired a board for a few hours, in the middle of the day, and went up and down the massive dune on the western side of the oasis (behind our hostel, Casa de Arena). Unlike on Wednesday, I actually managed to get down standing up — and with just a hint of style (but not too much, mind you) — rather than head-first, and flat on my stomach.
Just finished reading El Principito, and it's the first book that I've read in Spanish! Only took about 2 months — and it's a children's book, of about 130 (small) pages (some of which are illustrations) — but I persisted, and I got through it in the end. Obviously, I had the 'ol dictionary by my side the entire time, and I used it prolifically. After having read the book, I feel a lot more confident in my Spanish grammar, and my vocabulary has increased a fair bit. But I think it's time for a break from Spanish books: El Principito was very hard work; now I need a few nice, rubbishy, no-thinking-required, English-language paperbacks to breeze through.
Troy's been hanging out at Casa de Arena, the resort / hostel in Huacachina, even longer than us. Apart from being completely stoned, he's also a funny and a somewhat unbelievable guy. He's been travelling through Central and South America for 15 months, and he hasn't got a ticket back home to Oz. He spent a year backpacking in the Middle East, through countries like Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. And his facial hair is serious enough to even compete with mine. Total tripper.
This afternoon, we went and did the number one activity and attraction that Huacachina has to offer (well, arguably number one): dune buggy riding, and sandboarding! After a super-relaxed day spent by the pool at Casa de Arena, our group of 7 (plus our driver) jumped into an all-terrain sand buggy, and roared off into the dunes, for a crazy ride in the buggy, and for some even crazier kamikazeing down the smooth, sandy slopes of the coastal desert.
Had the Casa de Arena all-you-can-eat chook-and-salad plus all-you-can-drink Pisco Sour / Cuba Libre deal tonight, for the second night in a row. It's a pretty good deal: great food, lots of it, plenty to drink, great crowd, and a low price tag. But there's only so much of that you can handle. Feeling really full-up right now, and I have a feeling that I'll stay full for a while. Might need to take a break from the barbeque tomorrow night, and find a regular just-whats-on-the-plate kind of restaurant.
Even more than the massive dunes and the sandboarding, there's one thing that Huacachina is very, very famous for. I believe that its official name is Casa de Avinoam (lit: "House of Avinoam") — that's what the blackboard-scrawled sign out the front says, anyway. Most people refer to it simply as "The Israeli place". However, I think the most appropriate name for it would be Beit marijuana, because that's where it gets its fame from: at the end of every meal, the waiters at this bizarre restaurant will give you a small complimentary plate of not-particularly-legal herbs, and some paper to roll it up in. The cuisine is great here — but let's just say that most people don't come here for the food.
I've been noticing it more and more in the past month, but at tonight's BBQ buffet at Casa de Arena, it reached the point of being rather ridiculous. What's with all the French people around here?! All of a sudden, they're everywhere. At the dinner tonight, out of about 15 people, Chris and I were the only non-French-speakers around. Everywhere we've gone lately, we've seen massive French tour groups, of 20 or 30 Froggies, turning up at places all at once. Mon dieu, c'est ridicule! I mean, what's a French invasion doing in South America? Eh? None of your business!
Like most of the places to stay in the oasis of Huacachina, Casa de Arena is a very chilled-out resort-slash-hostel affair, with a nice swimming pool (a bit cold this time of year), a poolside bar, and a buffet BBQ every night (not only with all-you-can-eat chicken and salad, but also all-you-can-drink Pisco Sours and Cuba Libres!). Pretty good value, too — as evidenced by the abundance of (stoned) Israelis that stay there. Not sure when I'm going to leave this place, but it ain't anytime soon. :P