It has been a fairly routine two weeks apart from the non routine things. It was punctuated by a lightning trip to the USA by Craig and a two day adventure south of Lima. Travel, isn’t it wonderful?
At short notice Craig had to accompany a missionary home, only this time to North America. He was able to enjoy the wonders of two new airports to add to his list. He left 6 am Tuesday morning and returned 1 am Thursday morning. The flight went from Lima to Los Angeles (about 9 hours), then two hours to go through immigration and customs and then make a two hour connecting flight to Denver with ten minutes to spare. It seems that his past experience at LAX came in handy. They arrived in Denver at 1 am and after handing over the missionary to his parents he was able to find the most comfortable seat in the airport (which was basically empty) to try to get a couple of hours of sleep (not) before leaving at 8 am. The plane then returned via Detroit and Atlanta and back to Lima. Whilst in the airports Craig stocked up on some American chocolate. It is a sad day when American chocolate is the preferred (only) choice; no offence to our American friends who have never eaten Australian chocolate….Isn’t there a movie about someone who never left an airport?
Last weekend we enjoyed the opportunity to watch our church’s worldwide general conference, only this time live rather than delayed by a week because of time zone differences in Adelaide. It is always uplifting and inspiring to receive counsel from those we believe to be prophets and apostles of Jesus Christ. It was an historic conference.
On Thursday and Friday there were public holidays in Lima, so we took the opportunity to get out of the office and city and see more of Perú. Craig always has his phone and iPad so his portable office goes with him. Along with our new good friends, the Hansens, another senior missionary couple, we and a tour guide drove four hours south of Lima to a costal town of Paracas and then to Ica and Nazca. The highlights of the trip included:
- Driving out of the city on country Perú roads, with a Lima driver. Double lines down the middle only mean it is the middle of the road and bear no resemblance to “thou shalt or shall not pass”. Speed limits are non existent as far as the driver is concerned, at one point reaching 140 kph and slowing to 120 kph through the towns (with nominal 50 kph limits), with kids, people, and small taxis (“mosquitos”) getting out of the way as he drove past sounding his horn. Oncoming trucks and the overtaking antics of Lima drivers made it even more “interesting”. We actually feel fortunate to be alive.
- We drove through the most barren landscape on earth in the Nazca Desert. Many places have had no recorded rainfall at all for hundreds of years. It is literally dirt and rocks; no weeds, no shrubs, no birds, no tufts of grass, no sign of life at all including bugs on the windscreen. Amazingly though, ancient people discovered how to tap into underground water resources and built aqueducts to bring water to strips of land, making it flourish, belying the harshness of the desert that allows these desert dwelling people to survive and thrive in this inhospitable land. It really does give meaning to the scriptural term "living water". It was amazing that such a desolate place could be beautiful in its own way. Craig had an interesting conversation with the self-proclaimed “last surviving descendant of the Nazcas”.
- It was in Nazca that we boarded a small four passenger plane for a 30 minute flight to view the famous Nazca lines, carved into the desert floor. The pilot manoeuvred the plane to allow us to see the lines from both sides. It was like a roller coaster in the air, banking 360 degrees one way and then reversing the other way.
- Huacachina is built around a small natural oasis in the desert. It has sand dunes that stretch several hundred feet high. We went on a dune buggy ride on a tubular vehicle straight out of a Mad Max movie. It was yet another hair raising ride, this time on sand dunes, travelling about 60 kph. Craig and Sister Hansen were brave enough to each hurtle down a dune on a sand board.
- Finally, by sea, at Paracas we went on a large speed boat with about 40 passengers and sped out to the Ballesta Islands with abundant birds, breeding grounds, seals, and penguins that came down to wave at us. One rock face features the famous “Candelabra” that looks like the Tree of Life. Craig missed it completely as we sped past, but accidentally caught it in a selfie we happened to take just at the right spot. Note to self: the back corner of a speeding boat as it hits waves is not the driest spot to sit! We had almost forgotten the taste of salt water in our faces.
We are now back home for the weekend, suffering a little from the effects of our travel, having picked up a friendly tourist gastro bug; it seems to be the price to pay for an adventure.