In the morning we walked around Lima. The hostel owner was very nice and showed us around, then took us to the bus station of the company Cruz del Sur to get our tickets. The hospitality of the people in Peru by far exceeded our expectations. We were shown the direction to a Peruvian restaurant to calm our growling stomachs and ate a huge plate of Lomo Saltado (stripes of beef, cooked in a pan with an awesome sauce and mixed with french fries, red onions and red peppers). The portions were very generous, a plate would have been enough for three people, but that didn’t stop us from finishing the place. The price including drink (a pitcher of Chicha Morada, a sweetish, non-alcoholic, non-carbonated drink made with red corn and fruit) was barely $3.
After lunch we took the express bus to Ica. It was a very comfortable 2 floors bus with chairs reclining almost completely, a TV playing movies and one bathroom on each floor. Downstairs was the location of the first class, with completely reclining chairs, bed style; first class occupied half of the length of the bus and had a door for access and privacy). From the brochure on-board I learned that the bus had a GPS tracking system so that the company could send help shall the bus stop for any unscheduled reason in rural areas. Some buses even have Wi-Fi. Soon after leaving the hostess passed lunch; I wasn’t ready to eat again and I just nibbled a bit to see what it was like, not the best food I had, even less appetizing than airline food.
Ica is located some 300Km south of Lima and before arriving we passed by Pisco, the town that was subject to a major earthquake nearly three months before our trip and left over 500 dead. There was a lot of destruction, but that didn’t seem to have touched the good spirit of these people. I admired their resiliency.
Once at the bus station in Ica we hopped on a taxi for Huacachina, 5km away. By then it was dark and we couldn’t see much of the scenery other than realize that our surrounding were now sand and more sand. Huacachina is an oasis in a desert of giant dunes, around the lake there are hotels and restaurants. Trusting our ever-faithful Lonely Planet guide we asked the driver to take us to a hostel called Salvatierra. The cab ride was $2 and the welcoming in the hostel was once again a very warm one. A young boy gave us the tour and told us about a dune buggy / sandboarding trip that was taking place the next morning. We asked for an obtained a private room with bathroom and shower (open sky ceiling over the first part of the bathroom) which coasted us $6 each plus $2 for the (large) continental breakfast. In the hostel we met many young people coming from all over the world to offer their help in clearing the city from rubble left by the earthquake and whatever else they could do as volunteers. We took a short walk around the oasis and ended up stopping by the patio of a restaurant, where we met a group of young people from several countries who were here to spend two days; many of them had just met or met randomly at some point of their journey. We sat with these fellows and joined them for dinner and, once again, ate too much for very little.