There's a strange thing I've noticed while travelling that means I don't seem to like big cities; you are suddenly anonymous again. In smaller places like Mancora where I'd just come from, you are recognisably a gringo and you either get treated very well (if they want your business) or somewhat badly (if they'd rather not). You also see hundreds of other fellow travellers who you nod and smile at, possibly even converse with, being the likeminded free-spirited individuals as yourself. However when you hit a place like Lima you feel like just another number, something I now realise I haven't missed since leaving London. Who would've thought it?
None the less, I arrived determined to 'do' Lima after somewhat failing with Quito.
As mentioned previously it was the last day I was going to spend with Steve and Bec and there was no rugby to entertain us due to my miscalculations but there was beer, pool and card games aplenty. We stayed at Pariwana Hostel in Miraflores, which is in a great location on Park Kennedy and had a nice atmosphere with top facilities. I have to admit feeling a little bereft after Bec and Steve left, but I got out the trusty guide book and headed off on the metro bus to the centre of Lima, another UNESCO World Heritage site due to it's historic colonial architecture. I visited the Monastery of San Francisco, famous for it's Sevillian glazed tiles and underground catacombs (spooky), then went to the Plaza Mayor to watch the changing of the guard at the Government Palace (rather dull I'm afraid).
Lima didn't really do it for me though so off to my next stop, the desert oasis resort of Huacachina, a small natural lagoon surrounded by sand dunes that stretch several hundred feet high. It was odd travelling on my own again, it's strange how much easier everything seems when you have someone else to muddle through with. And more interesting - it seemed a long 5 hour bus journey with no one to talk to! (2pm bus with Flores from Lima to Ica, taxi to Huacachina). But I checked into Hospejade del Barco and had a beer overlooking the lagoon and soon got chatting to some French guys... Well beggars can't be choosers!
The next day was one of the best days I've had so far on my trip however. Breakfast in the beautiful sunshine, in a tropical paradise, followed by a dune buggy ride and sand boarding. This basically involves being strapped into a buggy with 7 other people while some madman driver tears up and down the dunes surrounding the lagoon, doing everything he can to scare the bejesus out of you. It was awesome! And then there was the sand boarding... Staring down from the top of one of these ENORMOUS dunes I honestly wondered what the hell I was doing and why I decide to put myself through these things, but once on the board (on my stomach) and with a little push from the driver I was off and it too was frickin' amazing. The dunes just kept getting bigger and bigger, and my screams louder and louder! By the end we were all covered in sand and exhausted from the adrenalin rush so went to a local restaurant, which happened to be showing the Peruvian national football team attempt to make history by qualifying for the world cup for the first time by defeating Chile. Unfortunately it was not to be but it was terrific to experience the atmosphere with all the locals screaming at the TV - a fantastic end to a fantastic day.