The first week in Peru ended in a bang as my fellow volunteers, Julio and myself bought our bus tickets for a small but epic trip to the Ica Province. Three martial art films later we arrived in Huacachina Oasis. The Huacachina Oasis is a mysterious lake in the midst of the Ica desert’s white sands. To my utter suprise the temperature is much warmer then Lima with the sun fully out, sharing its rays with us. I knew as soon as we had arrived that the time spent here would be memorable because the oasis was something I had never seen before. The legend of the Huacachina Oasis goes that a beautiful young princess was caught bathing by a hunter, when she fled, she left behind a pool of water that became the lake and the gown she wore fell behind her and became the dunes and sand. She is said to still live in the lake as a mermaid. Learning the legend increased our interest in the dunes and made sand boarding the first activity on the agenda. After checking into El Huacachinero we signed up and paid 45 soles for the adventure of a lifetime.
While climbing into the Dune Buggie an excited male tourist comes up to Lani and I and says with a grin, “Bless you all, don’t break a limb”. We looked at each other in disbelief then instantly noticed the seatbelts and how they modeled it like child’s car seat. Barely strapped in, the driver zoomed off toward the dune, with adrenaline pumping and excitement peaked we felt like we were on a roller coaster. At one point I commented to Lani and Christina how this job cannot possibly get boring, driving through the dunes with the wind on your face. Our driver seemed like he enjoyed his job and had a great many facts to share with us about the area. The driver was going at top speed and suddenly stopped at the top of a dune. At first I thought maybe he had to turn around or it was a viewpoint. The stop was only for us to realize what we were up against. The milliseconds of that stop were enough to make everyone yell with excitement as he stepped on the gas and plunged down the tremendous dune.
The drive through the desert was exhilarating. Speeding up and zooming down the dunes and the sharp turns. When the driver would stop we would all file out the vehicle, grab a board and surf down a dune. At first when I grabbed the board I sat on the edge questioning if I had the courage to just surf down. Sitting on the edge, I was having flashing scenarios in my head of how wrong this could turn out: flipping down a mountain or landing face first. I finally decided to just go and what a rush it was. Although I did fall, I was psyched to go down a view more slopes and we did. The amount of time spent in the desert was much more then expected but flew by like the speed of lighting as it was all thoroughly enjoyed.
At sundown we stopped to marvel at the sky and the beautiful colors in the horizon. Sitting next to Christina, Lani and Julio and watching the sun go down was the moment of reflection and the main thought was how lucky I am to be with such a fiery group of people that I can really learn from. Volunteer programs, such as this one, are a great way to meet people with similar interests as yourself and grow through the experiences you share. Our trip on dune buggies and sand surfing was a great way for us to bond. Sharing laughs of Julio’s failed attempts at surfing down the mountain or yelling in unison with shear excitement while flying down the side of a dune visiting the Huacachina Oasis is a must.