Our Drive To Paracas On The Pan American Highway
With our rental car topped up with gas, Bob and I headed south from Lima into the desert along the Pan American Highway towards our next stop at the village of Paracas located 15 kilometres south of the town of Pisco, in Peru. The Pan American Highway runs along the Pacific Ocean coastline and is bordered on the left by sweeping desert landscape. Huge hills, dare I say mountains, of sand, bisected by valleys and gullies, dominate the countryside.
We stopped for a break along the Pan American Highway. Few visitors to Peru ever drive this roadway. Most travelers head to the Andes Mountains and the Inca Ruins, or they make their way into the lush world of the Amazonian jungles on the other side of the Andes. We will travel to all those locations on this trip, but on this day, we stopped on the Pan American Highway for a closer look at the endless desert. Very few plants were in sight except those growing along the very edge of the highway.
This desert reminded us of many other deserts through which we have traveled on our trips around the world, deserts such as the Kalahari and the Gobi. This Peruvian desert resembles a dry moonscape.
Bob and I took a break for lunch at the beach on the Pacific coastline near Playa Sarapampa. This coast is famous around the world as the home of the world’s longest breaking waves. On this day, there were no surfers, but when the waves break big, this a popular place.
With our car in direct view behind us, I prepared lunch on the Pacific Ocean beach near Playa Sarapampa. My colourful gingham tablecloth goes with us most everywhere we travel.
It was a sunny, clear day when we visited this beach, but here, on the edge of the desert, it rarely ever rains.
For an hour or so, the sun beat down on us as we enjoyed a little picnic and walked in the surf. Hundreds of shorebirds raced to and fro searching for tidbits washed up in the waves, but then retreated as quickly as possible to avoid getting caught by the incoming rush of water.
Back on the Pan American highway, we came upon rudimentary dwellings that have been erected in the most unexpected locations.
Adobe-walled homes, along with animals enclosed behind stone walls, sit right beside the roadway making it necessary to watch out for farm animals, stray dogs, and people pushing handcarts.
Our route took us past many rivers during the early part of the day, rivers such as the Quebrada Chilca, the Rio Mala, and Quebrada Omas. All along the banks of these rivers, the desert has been turned into a lush and green border of vegetation.
We came upon a young boy who was guarding a field of corncobs spread out in the sun to dry.
At night, he sleeps in his teepee at the edge of the field to protect his drying corn from thieves.
It is a common sight to see hardworking people carrying their wares to market on their backs. As we drove through the countryside, we saw many people burdened with heavy bags of produce…
while others were prosperous enough to own mules and a cart.
In fact, mule-drawn or donkey-drawn carts were a fairly common form of transportation.
I was fascinated by the hardware stores that sell quite a different variety of products from our stores at home…various types of wooden poles and thatched mats.
As we motored along, it was common to see farmers bringing their harvest from the fields in huge woven baskets to waiting trucks.
Peru is located in an active earthquake zone.
Along certain stretches of the coast, it unnerved us to see cracks or fault lines in the earth’s crust.
Towards day’s end, we arrived at Hotel Paracas in the village of Paracas south of the town of Pisco. In the 1940s, this establishment was a vacation destination for the elite. It is absolutely beautiful…like an oasis in the middle of the desert except that the ocean borders the backside of the property.
The gardens were filled with lush green plants and punctuated with gorgeous, tropical flowers. Lots of palm trees grow on the beach property, and given the constant onshore breeze, they undulated gracefully above the numerous swimming pools.
After a long day of driving through the desert, it was a real pleasure to be staying here in such a relaxing and lush, tropical environment.