I'm having problems uploading my pictures tonight so I will try again tomorrow. Here is the verbal version for now . . .
We got a wonderful chance to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and take a little trip this past weekend. We went about 4hours south of Lima to a city on the coast called Paracas. Sounds simple enough right? Well, remember we are still in a developing country so things tend to get rather complicated. We started out taking a taxi to meet up with the other people who we would be traveling with (all 17 of us - and we aren't a fan of group travel even when we are the only ones with kids). We met up then took another taxi to the ole bus station in Lima. Fun times had by all there. We packed lightly and had just enough to keep our eyes and hands on at all times. There was a breakdown of communication at some point and instead of Claire getting the seat we had wanted for her the person handling the transaction for us tried to do us a favor and not get her a paid seat (about $4) so we ended up boarding the bus with all four of us in two seats. You may not see that as a really big deal but there were two problems. 1. I am 28 weeks preggo and have little lap to speak of and 2. when the person reclines in front of you (which they automatically do because the person in front of them is) the seat very literally almost touched my belly. The was a problem considering there was a 3 year old in my lap. Anyway, eventually we found a way to buy her a seat on the bus and things went a little smoother for the rest of the 4 hour bus ride.
Can I stop here and tell you how awesome my kids are. I mean seriously. They hung with us this entire journey and did not complain, cry or have issue of any kind the entire way. It was hot (no a/c on the bus), very cramped and just generally uncomfortable but they didn't seem to notice. There was also no bathroom on the bus. Can I tell you my 3 year old didn't have to go to the bathroom this entire trip??? Granted she may have been a little dehydrated but she just went in the bus station (in the pay toilet with no seat) and just waited until we got to the hotel to go again. They just sat and looked around, talked, played and eventually fell asleep. I was just so proud of them and everyone else was in awe. I think the rest of the single folks we were traveling with were a little concerned about traveling with us and the kids but they were pleasantly surprised and maybe realize that your cool life doesn't have to end when you have kids.
Anyway, after the big bus dropped us off on the side of the Pan American Highway near a town called Pisco we found another taxi to drive us the 30 minutes to Paracas. When we got to the hotel we found there had been a "problem" with our reservation and all of the rooms were gone. After much discussion they "found" a bungalow and a room at that hotel and a room at another hotel down the street (which ended up being a maid's quarters) but we were just happy to have a place to lay our heads that night. We headed to the restaurant to get something to eat. There was lots of drama there - we tried to order for us and the kids while everyone else we were with was having a drink so we could get the hungry kids fed and off to bed. Of course the one waitress in the restaurant was a bit overwhelmed and everyone else ended up getting their food first and eventually we realized our food was not coming at all. This is the point that I lost my patience :) We are still waiting for a lemonade and some french fries. Everyone was so great and helpful and basically just shared food off their plates so the kids could eat. I took two very tired and dirty children to get bathed and tucked in bed.
The room they "found" for us had an incredible view of the kitchen and we could hear all of the cooking and kitchen conversation as well as the dining area conversation. I collapsed into bed with Ford and Rhett with Claire and we listened to the loud noises all around. I had really been looking forward to some quiet after so many weeks of just about constant traffic, honking, sirens and other noises from our apartment. Oh well. We were laying there trying to fall asleep and Claire said "Daddy, do you hear your friends? They are having SO much fun! Do you hear them laughing?".
We got up early the next morning and headed out to the marina area to catch a boat to the Islas Ballestas which are known as the "Little Galapagos" here in Peru. I was thankful that I didn't throw up on this boat ride since I have been known to a time or two. The ride out to the islands was beautiful. We saw an ancient sand carving called the Candelabra that has been there for 2,000 years. We came upon the islands that were just wonderful. More birds than I could ever imagine! We enjoyed all of the pelicans, penguins and sea lions the most. The beach area was just covered with sea lions! There were tons of little baby sea lions too which were so cute. We even saw a mother teaching her baby how to swim. It was overall very impressive and the kids loved it. Ford really liked seeing the birds. Although when we got back to the dock he spotted a mangy stray dog and had a fit over it - way more excited about it than anything he saw on the boat!
We stopped nearby for a quick lunch at one of the seaside restaurant shacks then took another cab to meet up with some friends who had already headed to a lovely beach area on the National Reserve Park. The scenery on the way out there was pretty unbelievable. We are talking desert here - not even a cactus to speak of - just sand. There was a big earthquake there a little over a year ago that caused a tsunami that wiped out a lot of the coastal enterprises. We could still see the damage that had been sustained. Pretty incredible.
We made a quick stop off at La Mina beach which was a stunning place carved into the side of the sea cliffs. The cliffs were awesome because they offered lots of shade for those who wanted it - naturally! It was Ford's first time at the beach and as soon as I put his swimsuit on and put him down he literally took off running for the ocean. He and Rhett went for a fun swim and he laughed and played in the waves. He loved playing in the sand (quite a contrast from Claire's first beach experience!) and thought getting so dirty was so much fun. We made our way back to the hotel picked up our things (our big travel group had splintered off into several smaller ones by this point) and caught another taxi back to Pisco to catch the bus back to Lima. It had been a long day by this point but even so the kids were rock stars and didn't so much as whine on the way home.
It was a lot of travel in a short amount of time but it was so worth it. I was so happy to see some of the other scenery of Peru outside of my little slice of the city. It is such a diverse and beautiful country. We are just so thankful for this time together as a family to make memories and bond and travel together. We are so thankful for the opportunity to see our children's faces light up at the sight of a wild sea lion (or a wild dog for that matter!). It is just so refreshing to see the world through the excited eyes of our children.