Caracas to Paracas

Peru and the Pacific

A tedious 12 hour wait at Caracas International Airport was eager to grip us in its vice of boredom. The last time we were here we encountered the excitement of two earth tremors as tectonic plates greeted each other, at long last the call for LAN Peru 2565 signalled our journey to Lima. Lima International had the air of ordered tranquillity, totally at odds with the outside world, a false sense of security. As we sped through Lima we witnessed a clash of chaotic neon advertising casinos, fried chicken joints, Western Union money transfers, surrounded by half built buildings all fringed by giant rollers of the Pacific. A restless night’s sleep was encouraged by a platoon of renegade bed springs with no order to their regiment. A quick breakfast was followed by a short journey to Paracas our point of embarcation to the Ballestas Islands, a protected rocky outcrop 30 minutes from the shore. The stench of vinegary guano rocked the senses with a hint of what the eye could anticipate. Armies of cormorants covered the jagged protrusions as if carpeting the islands in a deep shag pile.

Sea lions in paracas

Thousands upon thousands in their black and white tuxedos and shiny red beaks, formation flying was in full force as lieutenants fed their orders, comical penguins stood their ground, with puffed chests shoulder to shoulder with their neighbours eyeing up the boats with boredom...another set of voyeuristic visits. Pelicans with their splendid red and blue gullets dive bombed for anchovy, whilst tired eyed sea lions lazed across the rocks yawning for picture hungry humans. Untouched by human interference, these jagged isles remain a fascination and more importantly home to colonies of species under Peruvian protectorate. Our next road stop was the hippy hangout of Huacachino an oasis amidst impressive sand dunes populated by have a go sand boarders. However, the journey to Nasca was remarkable as we gazed out from the large bus windows framing the ripple of the Andes, a hard, intimidating and unforgiving landscape only softened by the fading light of dusk. Mountains folded into each other and Nasca, home of the curious Nasca Lines came into view as did our accommodation for the night – the Peruvian equivalent of the Bates Motel. I’m sure I saw a silhouetted figure in a rocking chair in a nearby window.

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