Paracas and Pisco
Paracas Travel Blog› entry 3 of 34 › view all entries
Thursday - We made it up to the Cruz Del Sur bus station well ahead of schedule - so well ahead of shedule that it was shut! It also happend to be in a red light district - think a South American King´s Cross! Fortunately, the taxi driver let us wait in his cab for 40 minutes until the lights came-on and the bus station opened-up! We didn´t notice straight away but there was a car of police parked near us, so there wouldn´t have been any problems - although it was a nervous wait. We did laugh about it as soon as we walked through the gates though!
The journey south was in a very comfortable bus, although it was driven rather erratically by our UK standards, plenty of overtaking in single lane traffic in poor visibility! We arrived safely down the coast in Paracas and got to the Hotel Mirador, where we had 3 nights booked - it was a little bit more "basic" than we had expected, but it was fine - an oasis in a desert town.
Friday - We were up early (although not by our standards of yesterday!) and headed down to the harbour of Paracas for our trip to the Balestas Islands. This trip had only been running for the last couple of weeks after a break of a month due to the destruction of the ramp that allowed people to get onto the boats. It has been cruely and crudely dubbed "The poor man´s Gallapagos", but we preferred to call it the "The rich man´s Balestas Islands"! It didn´t disappoint. The huge communities of seabirds on larely barren rocks looked impressive as the islands loomed in the haze.
The sea was fairly choppy, although only a couple of people were sick. We arrived back at Paracas harbour having seen a dolphin hanging around a fishing boat, although it selfishly refused to hang around long enough for us to get a decent photo!!!!
Upon return to the hotel, we then went directly to Pisco and the base of Hands On Disaster Response, an agency we had heard about on the web that was directly working in the City of Pisco, which was almost 80% destroyed (although the whole of Southern Peru "only" had 500 fatalities).
It was hard work in very hot and dirty conditions, although it was certainly safe - there was no danger of an roof or supporting walls coming down, which is what stopped us from working on the other side of the building.
Saturday - A really hard day of work was waiting for us when we got to Pisco at 8am! We were clearing rubble from some residential properties - it was tough work and the sun was really burning down - oh how we could have done with that fog from Lima to help keep us cool! It was very sad to find personal effects of the people who lived in the houses (most people had been moved to the camps which contained 30,000 people).
We were greeted by Mark (Director of Operations) that lunchtime to be told that we were the 100th and 101st volunteers to make it down to volunteer! It was nice, but at the same time, it was a bit embarassing to be fussed over as many others had simply given-up their jobs to fly at their own expense to the area for no pay to work basically like labourers. In the afternoon, we moved to a site just across from where we were in the morning. Again, it was very hard work in the searing sun. We finished-up there at 5.30 and headed back to the base. For anyone interested in how things are going in Pisco, the website is www.
Again, we jumped into a collectivo back to Paracas, sadly there was only one seat so Erica had to perch on Jeremy´s lap - even a dog was given a seat!! Dinner was lovely at the hotel - we learned the lesson to "eat local style", as they arent always that great at pizza or pasta!!
Sunday - Sunday is the HODR day-off (given the work that they do in the week, we couldn´t begrudge them that!!!).