Friday, February 1, 2013

Granny and Papaw Survive Peru

They made it!  I mentioned in my last post that my parents arrived in Lima on Christmas night. This was their very first time to leave the USA.  I am still so proud of them for coming here and truly honored that they spent the money and took the time to visit us.  

Oh and what a trip it was!  Country folks in the city, let me tell ya.  They were great.  They rode the bus with me to work, ate a bunch of foods that they didn't want, tried to speak Spanish, visited Davis' school, drank Pisco Sours, all kinds of stuff.  It was a whirlwind trip and we enjoyed every minute that they were here.

On the first day we took them to the Santa Cruz market near our house and then walked to the ocean. They were blown away by the sights, smells and sounds of both.  We bought a watermelon at the market, of course.  It must be hard to get good watermelon in Arkansas right now because Dad acted like it was the greatest thing he'd ever tasted. I took them to the spot where I showed Davis the ocean for the first time.  We sat on a bench and ate our watermelon and then walked along the Malecon.
Day one in Peru.  Granny and Papaw sure are happy to see their grandson.  He was happy to see them too.
One fun part of the trip was to see their reactions to things that I now take for granted but knew they would find totally insane.  Like the traffic.  Stop signs?  Turn signals?  Red lights?  Lines on the road?  Speed limits?  Merely suggestions.  Deep down, I actually wondered if they wouldn't want to travel anywhere after they experienced the joys of a random taxi ride in Lima.  But Dad actually started laughing.  Even if it was to hide the sheer terror, he laughed.  Mom didn't.  She held on and whispered four letter words under her breath.  They don't have many taxis in Arkansas y'all.
Dad actually enjoying his first taxi ride.
Visiting my office!
I was off of work for two weeks around Christmas (most of the Heifer office closes down) and I spent all my free time with them.  Bryan and I decided to use their visit to do some of our own exploring in Peru.  We all headed south of Lima to visit the coastal town of Paracas and then hired a car to take us inland an hour to the other cool town of Huacachina.  We took a bus to and from.  It was about a 3 hour ride.  Mom and Dad had never been on a bus like that.  In Peru,  everyone uses buses to get around.  We used the Cruz del Sur bus line and let me tell ya, they put Greyhound to SHAME. It was like first class in an airplane.  

This trip gave them a chance to ride along the Pan-American highway, see the Pacific Ocean and see a small piece of the Peruvian landscape and how some folks live.  

Like in the houses below....
Taken from the bus
Paracas is known for a few interesting things, it is a small town and district, but it is best known for its national reserve.  An ancient Andean society existed here between 750 BC and 100 AD.  It has a lot of marine wildlife just off the coast in a group of islands called the Ballesta islands.  We took a boat out to the islands.  On our way out there, we happened upon this little thing...  
El Candelabro or The Candelabra
The Candelabra was interesting.  It's like the equivalent of a Nazca line or a crop is a prehistoric geoglyph.  Scientists found pottery nearby and carbon testing shows it to be from around 200 BC.  It is hard to tell from the picture, but it is actually 2 feet deep in the sand and 595 feet tall.  BIG.  They are still not sure who created it or why.  But whoever did knew what they were doing because the wind doesn't mess it up and it never rains there.  It hasn't changed at all since being discovered.  You can see it 12 miles out from sea.  Pretty amazing, despite the look on Davis' face.

Moving along the ocean, we finally came upon the Ballesta islands.  These islands are home to hundreds of thousands of various bird species and lots of sea lions.  Oh the birds.  Everywhere.  So many so, that the Peru government has created an industry around collecting the bird poo and exporting it to England and Cuba for fertilizer.
There were hundreds of thousands of them blanketing the island.  See the white stuff?  Bird poo. 
There is actually a house and plant on the islands to collect the bird poo and ship it off.  They have to wait until the poo is THREE FEET deep before collecting.  As we passed the poo plant, I said a little prayer thanking God that I didn't live on a poo island and that my job isn't to collect poo.  

Then we saw sea lions!  These things are so cute and weird and loud.
Think we're having a good time yet?  
So that was a cool outing.  We gathered back at the beach where most of the restaurants and shops and hotels are and had some lunch.  Later we walked along the beach for a while and did some exploring.
Look what Davis found!  This thing was about 5 feet long.  Ewwwwwww.

And he still jumped right in the water.

Check out that awesome shirt I'm wearing.  Courtesy of one Cindy Whitaker, my best home girl in the world.  She got me that shirt for Crimmus.  My new favorite thing ever.  
After lunch and chillin' on the beach a while, we took a tour of the national reserve.  This was done entirely in Spanish but I got the point of most of it.  Of course, mom and dad did not, but they enjoyed the view. 

*sidenote* I know my Spanish has gotten better.  The reason I know this is because I double checked that the tour was available in English before we left.  And they promised me, in English, that it was.  I was disappointed that it was all in Spanish.  So after the tour I took my self right up to the front desk attendant, who this time didn't speak English, and negotiated a refund for a large portion of the tour.  And I did it in Spanish.  True story.

We saw some cool stuff on that tour - but of course, the details are much more fuzzy since it was in Spanish.  :-)  Here are some shots from the "playa rojo" or "red beach" and the some other fun shots....

Two happy boys on the red beach in the Paracas reserve

So that was Paracas.  Geez this is a long post.  

We headed from there to Huacachina.  Which was even better.  It is an oasis in the desert.  Literally! I thought those things only existed in movies or cartoons.  It's a real thing!  There is a small lagoon in the middle of tall sand dunes with palm trees and everything.  We checked into the hotel and Papaw and Davis jumped into the pool under Granny's supervision while Bryan and I went for a walk to check out the town.  This was all before we had actually seen the lagoon.  As we walked up to it, in the middle of that dessert, that lagoon was like a dream.  I literally ran back to the hotel and told them to forget the pool, come and get in a row boat and row across the lagoon!  When else in your life do you get to do stuff like this?  Never!  They hopped right out and dressed and lo and behold:

Everyone took a turn row row rowing their boats across the lagoon while the sunset over the sand dunes.
This is Tom Tom Hughes sitting in a rowboat on a lagoon in the middle of the dessert in Paracas, Peru.
The next morning we went riding in dune buggies!  Turns out they're called dune buggies for a reason!  All my life I'd used the word and maybe rode in one somewhere, but these were the real deal.  This was hands down the best part of the trip.  When I grow up I want to be a dune buggy driver.  They went so fast and drove so crazy and whipped us around all over the sand dunes.  It was incredibly fun. THEN, they stopped and we were like, "What?" and they were like "Sandboarding!" So we did!  All of us.  Best day ever.
Pretty far away from Redfield, Arkansas wouldn't you say?  How fun is this picture!!!

Probably talking about fishing.
This is the coolest shot from the trip (probably because Bryan took it) - it is from our seat in the buggy looking out over the lagoon and the town of Huacachina below.  
After dune buggy rides, we headed home back to Lima.  That was 48 hours of my life that I'll never forget.   We were tired but oh so happy to be together all sharing in these new adventures.  I'm pretty sure my folks will remember it too.  We saw some cool stuff.  And for them, they saw the landscape of a developing country.  I think they learned some things here, some real things.  At least I hope so.  And at the very least, we were together.   I hope that they had as much fun as we did.  

I think they did.

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