I peered over the edge of the impossibly steep and frighteningly high sand dune.
“Hmmm, I don’t know about this one” I said white knuckling my sand board and looking back and forth nervously between Tom and Dave and the mountain I was supposed to slide down on a waxed board, lying on my tummy.
“It’ll be fine” Tom said, squeezing my arm reassuringly. We watched a guy from another group careen down the hill, flipping over about 6 times as he landed. From the top I could just barely make out the crimson blood spewing forth from his face as he was helped to his feet to limp unsteadily away from the landing zone.
I looked over at Tom. “I think I’m gonna walk this one.”
It wasn’t that I was necessarily being a wuss, by this point I had gone careening down about 6 or 7 mountainous sand dunes myself- feeling like I was gripping it and ripping it through the beginning of Aladdin. The dessert and sand dunes around Ica and Huacachina (The oasis where we were staying) are indescribable. It felt like we were on Mars, or trapped in the type of dessert one only sees in a New Yorker cartoon or a movie. It is apparently the driest desert in the world with an average of little to no inches of rainfall a year.
The three boys, Tom Nick, and Dave started out taking the dunes snowboard style- standing up and strapped into their boards. After watching Pla and I take a couple of dunes about 29x faster on our stomachs, and hearing our screams, they switched to riding the dunes on their bellies as well. Definitely the faster, scarier option.
Though no dune was as thrilling as the rides across the dunes in a buggy, driven by our expert driver Jesus. It was like the unsafest, scariest roller coaster ride that has ever happened. Ever.
The buggy raced across the dunes at incredible speeds, courtesy of its monster tires, kicking up sand and with our screams trailing behind it. I’m pretty sure that between 2 and all of the buggy’s 4 tires were in the air more often than on the ground. I have to admit- I closed my eyes for some of the more extreme jumps, willfully relaxing my body because I had heard once that drunks survive horrific accidents more often than sober people due to their muscles being more relaxed. After that incredible, though hair raising ride, any fear I’d had of the dunes was a fear that I would have to get back in the buggy!
This brings us back to the last dune of the day. The sun was setting and the golden hour was like a Midas touch on the sand. The pinks of the sky were picking up the red of the fallen sand boarder’s blood in a soft and delightful fashion.
“That guy never uses his brakes” Tom said, squeezing my arm again “just go for it”.
Hmmm by brakes he meant his feet, which you can drag in the sand behind you to slow you down a bit, or leave up in the air as this guy had just done.
I watched another member of the group go down; this one definitely had his feet dragging in the sand behind him.
OUCH! I don’t know if I actually heard the sickening crunch of his body flopping over itself as he rolled to a landing, or if the sound was just a product of my over-active imagination. That cinched it. I hefted my board up higher in my arm and started the beautiful walk down the dune. Enjoying how the steepness caused my feet to plunge down a couple of feet into warm sand with each step, and how walking so rarely ends with a broken nose.
Our Hostel (el Huacachinero) also wins an award for best towel folding.