After discovering the sweet side of Lima, we headed further south to a desert oasis called Huacachina. This little settlement is based around a gorgeous lagoon somewhere in the midst of the beautiful Atacama desert in Peru.
As we were wandering around this little village, futuristic-looking sand buggies kept whizzing past us full of excited tourists heading off into the sand dunes. It looked like a fun thing to do so we promptly booked some tickets for a buggy tour, with a sand-boarding option thrown into the mix as well.
After we’d paid the obligatory local sand tax – which as a UK government official made me wonder if there’s a policy option in here to help bolster Her Majesty’s depleted coffers? – our driver sped off at full throttle, nearly driving into another buggy almost immediately. I knew from then on that this was going to be an interesting ride…
The dunes were huge and when you drive up them you often can’t see what’s coming over the hill, which is perhaps a good thing as it gives you less time to worry about the likelihood of your buggy flipping as it speeds down endless steep slopes. There were many more of those ‘surely not’ moments to come as our driver kept on hunting out the biggest drops. Which meant being thrown around like a rag-doll which secretly I loved as it felt like a roller-coaster ride but in the middle of the desert – some of the men were less keen owing to the fact the seatbelts fastened overhead and clipped in between the legs, making extreme bumpiness something of a fertility issue :-/.
Every now and then we were let out of the buggy for some sandboarding which, you may have guessed, is like snowboarding but on sand. I have never been snowboarding (or sand-boarding) so I had trouble keeping my balance standing up. I therefore preferred the much simpler and more fun option of going down the dunes on my belly, face first!
Chris on the other hand mostly went down the dunes standing up – even though he is a notoriously useless skier with x-rays to prove it – and it was during one of those descents that a mini-nightmare occurred. Being a man with balance issues, he got into the habit of drooping his trailing hand to add an extra point of contact with the sand. On one particularly steep descent I noticed him suddenly fall to the ground and then try and scramble back up the slope looking for something. Of course with every step he took more sand slid down and covered the area making his search futile. At which stage he shot me a nervous look and pointed to his ring finger. When he came to the bottom of the slope he confirmed that he had indeed just lost his wedding ring. Oh well, “it was only a piece of metal”, he suggested as he headed off excitedly to the next slope. Hardly a comment to win him husband of the year 2014!
(Un)fortunately within a few minutes I had something much more pressing to occupy my thoughts. We had made it to the final slope, and Meine Gute was it a beast. In fact it was so steep that from the top an overhang prevented you from being able to see the bottom which sent me into a slight panic as my eyes darted around looking for an alternative way down the slope. But in the absence of one, I nervously got onto my board and, after a few moments of hesitation, began sliding down with my feet dug heavily into the sand to slow me down. In fact, so firmly wedged were my feet at first that I nearly managed to come to a complete standstill facing down a very steep drop (see below), prompting those at the top to tell Chris that I must secretly be Spiderwoman. Eventually I realised that going slowly was more scary than just letting rip so I released the breaks and went for it.
Have you ever tried sand-boarding, or lost your wedding ring for that matter?