Pisco on the hoof
After chasing around all types of sea creatures, it was time to visit something more in-line with our expertise: Booze! So we headed toward pisco sour country. We didn’t even have to take a crappy bus this time. The gentleman that took us to the boat launch area in Paracus had a van and for a fee would take the group to Ica. On the way he would stop at a pisco ‘winery’ and as a bonus to the largest sand dunes in the world for some dune boarding and buggy riding. From Ica we took a bus to Nazca to check out the Nazca Lines which completes this update. By the way, when traveling in Peru it’s a good idea to book your hostel in advance. When you book in advance the hostel will pick you up at the bus terminal, saving you the hassle of trying to find an honest taxi. We were told to be careful when getting a taxi in Peru as some can be dangerous. We used http://www.hostelworld.com for our bookings. This picture is of pisco sours to come. We know they look like wine grapes, but trust us, these are pisco sour grapes. Beautiful, no?
The pisco tour
The drive from Paracus to Ica is through beautiful desert terrain.We found it hard to believe that anything could grow here let alone grape vines. For more on the Peruvian desert check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sechura_Desert. But… here we were at the entrance to this beautiful winery. And so the Pisco winery tour begins. A truly beautiful place reminiscent of Napa. Our guide was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. “Ok, so we grow these grapes, make some wine, distill it and, and…. you guys aren’t really paying attention are you? You just want to get back to the bar and try some right? No way, you’re going to listen to my speech first!” So we listened and waited patiently. It actually was a very interesting tour as the following pictures will show. What we learned was that Pisco is a sort of Spanish brandy, distilled from wine. Well, instead of us paraphrasing our guide, if you want to learn more go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pisco.
“And so, once the grapes are crushed we need a place to allow the fermentation process to occur.” Nice pots, huh?
If you didn’t like the other type of fermentation bottles, how about the bullet version. By the way the area of Peru that we are in is a desert. It’s really amazing to see this beautiful oasis with vineyards everywhere! Hey, let’s go get potted! Ok, Ok, we know it’s bad but, we just couldn’t resist.
Once the fermentation process is complete the fermented grapes head for the distillery. Of course, help from above is always appreciated!
Look at that happy face! The final product coming out of the distiller. And Carrie, always thirsty, asks, “When do we head for the bar” And Pat, ever curious asks: “What does the cross signify and what are its origins.”
We never did get an explanation as to the meaning behind the symbols on the cross, but we thought it was an interesting mix of traditional Catholic and pagan symbols.
OK, alright already! Here you go Carrie. Enjoy! We tried, If memory serves, 3 different qualities of pisco. Of course, saving the best for last. And then, after plying us with pisco, we were led to the bar for an opportunity to purchase all we could carry.
Alright! Properly medicated (pisco sours) the adventurers head out for the thrill ride of a lifetime. About an hour from the winery, just outside of the city of Ica we find the largest sand dunes in the world. Check out: http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/showflat.php?Number=64612. Looking like something from a Travel Channel adventure show we prepare to board our sand buggy. The plan is to jump the peaks of these huge sand dunes, and if we live, stop and sand board down the dunes steep face. Do we look crazy or just plain stupid? From right to left: Pat, Chris A (feet only), Pam, Chris B, and Bill.
Properly strapped into the buggy, we accelerate at near light speed, slam up the face of a huge dune, then bank, nearly tipping over. Only centrifigal force kept us from being ejected into orbit. Ok, we may be exaggerating a little, but it was pretty thrilling. Check out their website at: http://www.desertadventure.net.
Hair blown back, sand in teeth, we make our first stop to check out this panorama. WOW! Sand dunes everywhere and the light was incredible. If we were film producers this is where we would come to shoot. “Ok, take your pictures and let’s ride!” says the buggy driver.
Well, look at that, there’s a camera crew and a model filming, we think, a commercial. Tough day at the office, huh? They wouldn’t allow us to get too close, but we did manage to sneak this picture in before Bluto came over and said “Move away or I break you.”
Stop number 3. Let’s wax up these boards and do some riding, ok? Here we see Chris B patiently waiting his turn. Damn, that’s not a slope, it’s a cliff. How close is the hospital? We had a contest for longest ride but we can’t remember who won. Chris A, Chris B, Bill, or Pam, can you help?
Bill is the first victim. Check out the form, elbows tucked, feet up. Now, to avoid a face plant would be awesome. Are the Olympics next?
Heart pounding, body shaking, Carrie jumps on the board screaming, “AHHHHHHHHH!” and heads down the slope. If you don’t think it’s a long way down check out Pam, Bill, and Chris at the bottom.
So we manage to survive the boarding so the driver says: “Hey, you guys are doing alright. Let’s check out a steeper slope.” “Steeper Slope?” we all respond in unison. But, we’re tough so we say ok. Pam, better known to the group as Oasis decides to go last and, maybe the pisco sours were still having an impact, she decides to go down standing up!!! Are you nuts??? Some minor tumbles on the way down but she did great. Some may wonder why we called Pam Oasis. Well, we come up over top of a huge dune and look down to see a beautiful lush area with a small lake. Pam says: “Wow, look at all those trees and water in the middle of the desert. It’s kinda like an oasis, huh?”. DUH!!! Hence forward you shall be called Oasis. Oh, and ask Carrie why she was named Winter.
Having survived a day of pisco tasting and sand boarding on the largest dunes in the world, we headed for Nazca to check out the famous Nazca Lines. Our wonderful van driver gets us to the CRAZY bus terminal in Ica late in the afternoon for a 5 hour bus ride to Nazca. If anyone out there plans to travel to this area let us know. We have our driver’s phone number. He was great and very affortable. Little did we know that the running of the legendary Nazca Earth Day Parade was scheduled for the next morning. Here is the Nazca school marching band followed by throngs of kids encouraging all of us to be earth kind. Really nice to see!!
The sign needs no translation. The kids obviously loved having their pictures taken. Noteworthy was our lunch here, which included soup with chicken feet and chicken heads. It was actually very good. Nazca was a cool little town with very few tourists, which was surprising, considering how famous the Nazca lines are.
Time to go do what we came here to do. Namely, see the Nazca Lines by air. So, we jump into a taxi and head for the airport. Traveling upscale in a way cool taxi. As you can see Bill is thrilled!
We arrived at the airport mid-afternoon. Our captain assures us that the weather is great and visibilty is awesome. Only 3 passengers per plane so we had to slpit up the group. The flight was to last for only about 45 minutes, but we were assured they would be an amazing 45 minutes. But no in-flight movie!
Carrie was our co-pilot, so she thought she was going to get a tip as well. No way! We did wait to tip the pilot until we were safely back on the ground. I’m sure you can guess why. Up, up, and away in our…..
And amazing it was!!! The pilot banks the plane so we all could get a good view. The picture doesn’t do the image justice. Think about it, this guy covers an entire mountain side. By the way, he is aptly named The Astronaut. He appears to be waving hello. Maybe from another world?
No one really knows what motivated the artists to draw these things because without the ability to fly they could not see the total finished product. It can only be viewed from the air. Yep, its name is The Monkey. Check out: http://www.crystalinks.com/nazca.html for more details.
And now the hummingbird. This guy was absolutely huge. We were sure lucky to have such a clear day.
And the spider in all its glory. Maybe the aliens were spiders and it’s a self portrait. :>)
Looks like something out of a Warner Brothers cartoon. We’re not sure where the name came from, but it’s called The Hands. And with The Hands waving bye it’s time to say goodbye to this update. The next update will feature Arequipa and Colca Canyon in Peru. See you ‘out there’.