We survived Ica but only just. It wasn't the nasty streetlife that did us in but the wine and the
Of course surrounding the oasis is a lot of sand. Lots and lots and lots of it, with quite big dunes. This gave us the opportunity to try out some sandboarding. I thought it'd be similar to snowboarding but I was wrong. First of all, there are no lifts so unless you've splashed out on a beach buggy (we hadn't) you have to walk up a sand dune. Second, whereas snowboards just glide across the snow and ice with speed, the sandy variety needs a lot more persuation to get it going. I managed to do a couple of turns but it's just so slow. I think you have to have a very steep dune to get any momentum going. On the other hand, if you get bored, you can just sit on the board, point it downhill and then you can get a bit of speed up.
After the boarding I was covered in sand. My trainers were so full of sand it hurt my feet (honestly), all my clothes were covered in sand and my face, neck, arms, legs, in fact every part of my body was sandy. I think the earlier, liberal application of suncream also aided the adhesion. It's still all over me as I type this a few hours later. Can't wait for the shower.
After the sandboarding we visited a couple of vinyards and went wine tasting. First was the place that has won first place several times for it's Pisco wine / brandy. Tried several types from the famous Pisco Sour to the eye watering straight Pisco (over 40%). Bought a bottle of the Pisco Sour as that's yummy. Skipped the normal Pisco, think I'll stick to palinka. Mmmmmm..... palinka..... it's goooood. Another vinyard offered up some good wines. Very very sweet but that's what they go for around here, including one that was so strangely sweet that it tasted like bubble gum (or similar to the fantastic Inca Kola that they sell here).
After the tour we got ourselves onto a cheap bus to Pisco the town. Journey was okay as it was only about an hour and we had made sure to get the bus that actually goes into town and doesn't leave it's passengers 5km away on the outskirts (as most of the others do). On the bus we got to see lots and lots of desert. People were getting on and off but there was hardly anything for them to go to. They seemed to either live in a very basic hut or they just walked off across the desert to some faraway destination.
Getting off the bus in Pisco we were "pirana'd" by a load of people offering accomodation. It's the most aggresive it's been on the trip but it wasn't too bad. They were more into dissing their competitors and making fun than being nasty to us. However, they were very persistent and followed us around everywhere until finally found a place. Staying in Pisco Hostel which is on the main square. They absolutely promise us that there's hot water. Which is what everyone else does but we've been let down the last few times (last place didn't have it either) and tonight I really do need a good shower.
Tomorrow (Monday) we've got a day tour booked to get to the coast, get out on a boat and see lots of wildlife on the nearby Ballestas Island then go round the nearby peninsula (the name escapes me). Then we'll be off to our last stop at Lima. It's almost over.
Note: While logging into the great LogMeIn site, the browser offered me an email address it rememebered. So someone before me must be a user. A good feeling.
Updated with photos (29-Nov-2005) - Click for pics
Sandboarding on the way down.
Sandboarding on the way up.
My trainers collected so much sand it hurt.
Wine tasting very sweet wines.