The Gap Year: Nazca, Ica, Huacachina, and Paracas

Technically, my first few days living in Peru were spent in Lima.

But we’ll get to that.

The first big thing I did in Peru, besides leaving my first apartment in a panicked frenzy (we’ll get to that too), was probably the biggest thing I did, and it all happened so quickly that I didn’t fully process it all until we were back in the city.

The first time I was in Peru, in July 2009, I had the opportunity to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu. Because we were only in the country for a week and were already visiting Cusco and Lima, I didn’t have the chance to visit the Nazca Desert and fly the Nazca Lines. I was disappointed and promised myself that on my next trip to Peru I would visit the Lines.

The Nazca Lines are to this day considered a mystery. Located in the desert in the south of the country, these ancient lines stretch for miles and miles. My entire life, the figures of the Nazca Lines were just designs on plates and vases around our house. Seeing them for myself from a tiny, rickety airplane (emphasis on rickety) was one of those moments in my life where I said, wow. I can’t believe I’m actually doing this.

Because I spent a good part of the plane ride trying to keep myself from putting the barf bag to good use, some of my pictures of the Lines weren’t as exciting as I had hoped for. But, I did manage to snap a few good shots of the Dog, Astronaut, and Hummingbird!

So how did I end up in the desert, 200 miles from the city where I would be living, just three days after I landed in Peru?

My incredible family, whom I’ve mentioned before, took time off of work, crowded into an SUV, and drove my mom and me to the desert to let me fly the Lines. I had just met them a few days before, and yet there we were, driving down the most rural, dusty stretches of desert road, talking, joking, singing, and mostly laughing. My cousin’s husband, Ricky, even flew the Lines with my mom and me. It was amazing.

After we flew the lines, we drove to Ica, a humble town tucked away in the desert. We stopped at Huacachina, a literal oasis in the heart of the desert, and then stayed the night at a sweet little villa. Before getting back on the road the next morning we went sandboarding. Another new experience for me. I’m sorry, I meant another new, terrifying experience for me.

That evening, on our way back to Lima, we stopped in the beach town of Paracas. Ricky, a one in a million character, smooth talked the managers of a luxury resort into letting us into the gated community, sit on their fancy patio and have drinks and appetizers, and even test out their pool. It felt like we were getting away with something unbelievable, something we wouldn’t have even tried here in the US. It was worth it for the view of the sunset that we got to witness before we got back on the road.

Takeaway: I had no idea that this trip to Peru would be so different from my first time. I had no idea what to expect from this mini-trip at the very start of my biggest adventure. If those two days were any indication, I certainly had no idea what the rest of my time in Peru had in store for me. And before that little road trip, I had no idea how much fun the heat-scorched, summer sun-soaked desert could be.


5 Replies to “The Gap Year: Nazca, Ica, Huacachina, and Paracas”

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