Our bus took a few stops between Lima and Paracas. We're taking the Peru Hop bus, which is a hop-on hop-off bus that connects most major tourist destinations in Peru. That also means they stop at some scenic spots on the way, to break up long rides or simply show something noteworthy. Aside from the viewpoint stop I mentioned in the last post, we stopped at a brick-and-clay wood-fired bakery for a light lunch. We also visited a beach filled with sand crabs, where our shoes inadvertantly went for a swim but were saved by a friendly family.
Paracas is a small beach town laid out much like Carpinteria, only smaller (population 4,146). We stayed several days to rest up, and to get the free Peru Hop tour of the local national reserved. Mostly we did a lot of relaxing and checking out the local restaurants.
The main thing to do in Paracas is to visit Las Islas Ballestas, which is a small group of volcanic islands off the coast. Average rainfall is 0mm so nothing lives on land, but due to a confluence of currents the ocean is rich in life. That brings fish, of course, but also birds and sea lions which gather in great numbers on these islands. We took a short tour to this national park by speed boat, which got is quite close to the animals.
The other main attraction in Paracas is to tour the desert national park, which we did on the bus on our way out of town. The desert has some neat colors, but the limited places we stopped meant I didn't get many good photo opportunities. In hindsight we should have used our extra days in Paracas to hire a taxi to take us around the desert on our schedule (eg. sunrise/sunset). Apparently nothing lives in the desert besides foxes, which survive on trash and dead animals that tend to wash up at a specific beach in the park.
My Spanish is not terrible, but it feels mostly limited to buying things. I'm trying to at least occasionally have a conversation with somebody. My biggest success was asking somebody what a particular outdoor ceremony was about, and he explained to me that they were celebrating 28 years of Paracas being an independ town (I imagine just being incorporated). He did use a few English words, though. At any rate, it's motivated me to spend a bit more time with Duolingo. The quality of Internet doesn't always allow for it, but when it does it does help me learn. So far I also fairly quickly notice new constructions or words that I'm learning in real life.
Not everything went as planned. Danielle got sunburned pretty good while laying out on the beach. I got sunburned just a little, despite staying under the umbrella the whole time. We're down 1 ATM and 1 credit card. Luckily we have spares for both. We continued to do battle with minor stomach issues which would come and go. But after all was said and done, we were more rested and ready to continue our travels.