Journey through Peru – Paracas day 2

Our second day in Paracas, we were disappointed to learn that the boats were not going out on the water. The winds were just too strong. We had hoped to tour the Islas Ballestas (also known as the Poor Man’s Galapagos), but we’d have to save that for another time.

Our cab driver took us to breakfast, which we had a bit of trouble locating. Most the restaurants were still closed and the ones that we’re opened served an “American breakfast”. Let’s face it – our family doesn’t qualify for American when it comes to food. Toast and jelly and juice just doesn’t cut it! But we made do and at least found some decent eggs and meat, after searching three different menus.

For the morning we drove through El Nacional Reserva de Paracas – Peru’s only coastal reserve. This was actually part of the Atacama Desert.

The beautiful desert

The beautiful desert

Our first stop in the desert was an area filled with fossils.

Looking at fossils in the sand

Looking at fossils in the sand

The wind was so strong! We were glad we brought the kids hats. Cliff still wasn’t a fan of the wind though.

The Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert

The coastal views were absolutely incredible.

On the coast

On the coast

Pacific ocean

Pacific ocean

We were surrounded by beauty in every direction. From the golden sandy hills to the crashing waves and enormous condors flying above us. The photo below is NOT touched up or photoshopped in any way!  The sand was so yellow in this area of the desert!

Actual YELLOW sand!

Actual YELLOW sand!

A condor

A condor

We stopped at one place and our driver started beating some of the ground with a rock.

What is it??

What is it??

At first we weren’t sure what he was doing, but he handed us some white rocky substance and we realized it was real salt!  Like real, real salt.  (And it was delicious.) This was Olivia’s favorite part.

Tasting some rock salt

Tasting some rock salt

After this, anytime the rest of our trip that she saw a rock she’d start hitting the ground with it and tell us that she was making salt.

Watching the condors fly

Watching the condors fly

Happily eating salt

Trekking along!

The views were breathtaking. This area was called Mars Hill – the rocks and colors really did make us think of Mars.

Mars Hill

Mars Hill

John and Livi on Mars Hill

John and Livi on Mars Hill

This Playa Roja is one of just five red beaches in the world.

At Playa Roja

At Playa Roja

The sand is red because of the rocks surrounding the beach. When the waves crash on the rocks they knock off the red sediment and churn it into the waves – eventually settling the red sand on the beach.  The contrast was amazing!

Look at that red sand!

Look at that red sand!

We stopped by this little fishing village on our way out of the Reserva.

Fishing village

Fishing village

The pelicans were so big here! And they were not afraid of people. I guess they get used to handouts from tourists.

Watching the pelicans

Watching the pelicans

Our last night in Paracas we went back to the boardwalk in the main part of town. The sunset was absolutely gorgeous!

Fishing boats

Fishing boats

Me and my sweet boy

Me and my sweet boy

Sunset at the water

Sunset at the water

It was a bit warmer here than Lima, with the main difference being the sunshine. The drier climate made it feel a bit warmer too. We had an amazing dinner at El Delfin Dorado. Cliff was quite impressed with the whole shrimps and tried to bite a claw when I showed one to him.

Dinner

Dinner

Cliff was very impressed with the flaming conches, too.Delicious conches  The fresh juices were good too!

Olivia and her juice

Olivia and her juice

The conches were some of the best seafood I’ve ever had! Overall, we enjoyed Paracas. I wish we could have made it to the Islas Ballestas, but, as someone once told us – you should always leave a reason to come back!

Journey through Peru: Paracas day 1

So here we were, two responsible adults, standing in a bus station at 5am, willingly subjecting ourselves to a two-week trip with our littles in which we would spend over 20 hours on buses. In fact, every mode of transportation would be taken on this long trip: bus, car, boat, moto, and plane. Crazy, or stupid? That is the question… The first bus ride went great. No problems so far! Four hours in a bus in which the seats recline (all the way – not just 2 inches!) and you don’t have a stranger on either side of you breathing their lunch breath all over you, was really nice. Both the kids are lap children, but they did well being constrained (as well as can be expected, that is).

Going for the camera

Going for the camera

Cliff had fun driving his cars on the pillow for a bit.

Playing cars on the bus

Playing cars on the bus

When you travel with kids, your goal is usually to find things that entertain them for 5 minutes at a time.  Anything longer is just a bonus.

The level of poverty we passed through was saddening. Though some of the small villages seemed to keep tidy places, most were very run down. Nearly every town seemed to have a piece of land growing vegetables or long rows of crowded coops of poultry. Their homes were right on the ocean, with the farm land past that and near the road.

Paracas itself is very small. I was surprised at how empty it seemed, though it was the off season, so maybe that was why. There is one road that runs through the whole town and it takes just 5-10 minutes to get from one side to the other. At the far end of the main road is the Nacional Reserva de Paracas.

Our first day there we got checked into our hotel then caught a cab to the town’s center, a boardwalk of small restaurants and mercado-type stalls selling artisan items.

Stalls of artesnal items

Doing some Christmas shopping

Playing on the boardwalk

Playing on the boardwalk

These pelicans were trained for photos. It was so funny to see them walk up to their handler for a fish!

Man feeding pelican

Man feeding pelican

At the ocean!

At the ocean!

We had ceviche for lunch – one of the best ceviches I’ve had in Peru (and that’s saying a lot!). The fish was locally caught by the boats we watched float in the bay as we waited on our food to arrive. It’s amazing to me how inexpensive things are when you go to the source of them. Two huge platters of ceviches and fish (that fed our whole family) was less than $20. That’s a good meal, there! We also had a smoothie consisting of papaya, plantain, egg, and banana. Yes, raw egg…I know. But we took the risk and everything was fine. At home we eat raw eggs in our smoothies, as long as we know the source of the farm fresh eggs – and it’s really no different than eating a sunny side up egg.

We ended the day with a walk on the beach outside our hotel.

Starting our walk on the beach

Starting our walk on the beach

The sun started dipping below the horizon as we watched the huge pelicans gather into the bay.

Watching the pelicans

Watching the pelicans

The sandpipers chirped a happy sound as they looked for a catch in the shallow water. There was a lot of wildlife out! We even found a flamingo feather!

Flamingo feather

Flamingo feather

The seaweed that had washed up on shore looked like piles of romaine lettuce and green cabbage. In one spot we found an enormous pile of discarded shells.

Empty shells

Empty shells

They were beautiful shades of purple and orange.

Look at these shells!

Look at these shells!

Before long it was too dark to continue further, so we turned back. It was an enchanting evening!

Sunset

Sunset

Beautiful and romantic, even with two little ones in tow – sandy feet and all.