“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
In a dry and parched land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.”
Psalm 63: 1-3
There is something powerful about being wrapped in the silence of the desert.
Perhaps it’s that sand simply absorbs sound like a sponge. Or maybe it’s because if you wait just long enough, the shifting sand will dance noiselessly and tirelessly before your eyes . As we trudged along through the sand dunes of Huacachina, some as tall as 350 feet, two images continually came to mind:
- the figure of Jesus seeking the solitude of the desert to pray
- the shadowed outline of a dying man stumbling across the sand in search of water
It wasn’t until afterwards that I understood that these visions were more alike than they were different.
Walking through deep sand was way more difficult than I imagined. As we summited our first couple of dunes, a heavy sweat drenched us both and our shoes suddenly became three or four times as heavy. The sand began to cling to our bodies - our legs, arms and face became lined with grit as the wind swept against us. But without discussion, we continued further and further into the isolation of the desert. Hours later, we sat silent at the peak of a huge dune watching the sun set as clouds of sand played across the landscape. And as I looked over to see the dune beginning to claim Kristen as its own, I recognized a look on her face that I knew must be present on mine as well: pure gratitude.
After making our way down from Arequipa and the mountains (whew, we can breathe again) we headed up the coast and into the desert.
We made a failed attempt to see a cemetery where many bodies are buried above ground... Kristen wasn’t too keen on the idea so I have suspicions that she may have “accidentally” not been able to find it.
We eventually made our way into Ica where I had a pretty serious clash with some mototaxi drivers. Kristen thinks they’re cute, I personally see them more as giant mosquitos...
Right outside of town, we spotted a community of woven shacks. Seeing as the wind was continually sweeping sand across the ground, I would imagine that it is a very difficult way to live.
After rolling into Huacachina, we had a quick lunch and wandered around to find a place to stay. Huacachina is a bit of a tourist magnet. Lots of foreigners come to sand board and dune buggy so the majority of the town caters to out-of-towners. The first hostel I walked into reminded me of being on a college campus, but not in a good way. The guy taking me to see a room literally caught a frisbee, took a chug of a beer and told me that he was throwing a “420” party that night if we were interested - all on the way to the room. We quickly realized that we were out of our depth and headed directly after the nearest tourist bus full of senior citizens.
After dropping our stuff off, we walked straight out of town and into the sand.
It is unbelievable to think how a magnitude of tiny particles can make up such enormous dunes.
As the temperature dropped significantly and the sky became colored, we sat and waited to watch the desert transform.
With the last slits of sunlight breaching the horizon, we ran back to town from the chill of the night.
Our reward for the hike: