The Way to Paracas

The other day, we headed off towards Paracas, a small beach town that would be a short pit stop on our way to Lima. The Islas Ballestas are situated off its coast, and you can take relatively cheap boat tours out to see the wildlife on those islands–it’s sometimes called “the poor man’s Galapagos”. Unfortunately for us, rough seas prevented us from going. We were told this only happens two or three times a year. Qué suerte!

But we didn’t know that when we set off from Ica–our only goal was to get to Paracas as cheaply as possible.
As they say, there are several ways to skin a cat, and it was thus for our journey.
Option 1: We take Cruz del Sur (the nicest, and most expensive, bus company in Peru) directly there. Cost: S./ 20 (nuevo soles), or $7.15.
Option 2: We take Soyuz (a relatively nice, but with less legroom) to right outside Pisco, then take a taxi straight to Paracas. Cost: S./ 19, or $6.70.
Option 3: We take Soyuz to right outside Pisco, then take a taxi into Pisco, then take a minibus out to Paracas. Cost: S./ 9.50, or $3.39.
You might not think a savings of less than $4 US is very exciting, but when it can get you 60km, it’s really quite a bit of money. Money and talking about money is very tiresome, of course, but if we’re not careful, our trip will be ended much sooner than we want it to.
So there we were, riding along this coastal road in a bus that had seen better days (it had a hole in the floor, right above the tire well), and feeling rather relieved that none of our belongings had been threatened thus far. The wind was blowing through the open windows, the sun was gracing us with its presence, and you could see the ocean the entire way. I suddenly felt a joyful giggle bubble up through me and I turned to Craig with a silly smile on my face.
I can’t describe exactly why I felt so happy. Perhaps I was just glad to see the coast again. Perhaps I was feeling smug about how much money we’d saved. But I think what it really was, was that elusive contentment that creeps up on you every now and again when you feel like you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. This happens so rarely in life, and is so fleeting, but I managed to hold onto that feeling all the way until we reached Paracas.
I’m not saying that you can never feel this way if you travel more expensively. Perhaps the feeling actually comes more often when you don’t have to worry about finances and such. For me, I’m not sure I could have achieved it if we had been ensconced in the air-conditioned bubble of Cruz del Sur. But on that rickety, old bus, with endless, turquoise waves to the right, the vast emptiness of the desert to the left, and a cool breeze whipping through my hair, I could care less about where we were headed and where we had been. All I knew was that it was a splendid world, and that I was very lucky to be seeing it.
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