(Not) Sandboarding in Huacachina. (Or, I’m a totally uncool backpacker. And I’m kind of OK with that.)
Huacachina is a weird little outlet in southwestern Peru. The town, if you can even call it that, centers around a natural lake, and that is surrounded by giant dunes of sand. It’s a vintage relic, really, one of those places you could imagine being filled with rich Peruvians on a weekend holiday back in the seventies.
But this is 2014, and it’s kind of run down, and it retains all that 70s charm, and local vacationers, while still there, have been outnumbered with bus-loads of tourists stopping to take photos before getting back on the bus, and backpackers there for one thing: sandboarding.
Sandboarding excursions in Huacachina are the thing to do. For two hours you’re taken in a dune buggy up and down the sand dunes making stops to either slide down slopes on a wooden board or, for the more adventurous types, standing on an actual snowboard.
“How bad is the dune buggy,” I asked the woman at my hostel.
“Not bad at all,” she said.
I bought the ticket but, sure she was lying, downed 3 Dramamine, 2 Advil, and a hit of some holistic motion sickness drug I bought once because I can never find Dramamine in the store (seriously, where do they hide it?).
I didn’t actually want to go sandboarding. I didn’t actually want to go in a dune-buggy ride that I’d heard described as a roller coaster.
I did want to go deep into the dunes to take photos.
I’ll tell you this: it’s not easy being me. It’s not easy being a girl who is constantly afraid of everything. Who, even if she’s survived something before, doesn’t seem to remember that she made it out alive. It’s exhausting.
And so, as I stood on top of the sand dunes, looking out over the horizon, looking over the edge as everyone else slid belly-down down the slope, I looked at my driver, shook my head, and strapped myself back into my seatbelt.
I’m sure everyone else in the party thought i was totally lame. But, so be it, I’ll be my lame self if I want to.
Besides, the dune buggy itself was more than enough thrill to last me for months. Those who described it as a rollercoaster were right on point. The driver would speed up, impossibly fast, bringing us up impossibly tall dunes before teetering on a edge which we could barely see beyond. We were sideways, we were straight up, we were straight down.
It was a roller coaster. Without a track. Maneuvered by an insane Peruvian.
Luckily, for the English girls surrounding me, I had taken all those drugs.