Infancy has the virtue of transforming beautiful places into magical spots. I have planned on going back to Paracas for a while now, that place on the coasts of the Department of Ica where my family and I had spent so many summers and my first New Year's Eve by the sea.
I packed my backpack and took a bus bound to the Province of Pisco, 250 kilometres away from Lima. The means of transportation are abundant and there is an especial line with departures every five minutes. While we move smoothly along the Southern Pan American Highway I watch the scenery almost without noticing it, my mind rather caresses childhood memories; so many summer days on that roughly solitary beach, so many adventures, and so many friends.
After an almost three-hour trip I finally arrive in the bus terminal of Pisco, from where I take a taxi to my hotel, which is located just on the outskirts of El Chaco Beach, centre of most of the local travel agencies.
It is late summer and the hotel is almost empty. It is great to enjoy the peace and calm of the ample installations. Not to mention its huge swimming pool fairly always for myself. I took a quick rest and went down to the beach when I could no longer contain my so awaited reencounter with my early years' paradise.
El Chaco has grown notoriously, what back then was a small cove of fishermen with a few cabins made of reed and mats had turned into a proper barrio neighbourhood with brick houses, restaurants and countless shops. Dozens of boats swirled around a pier that, years ago, was used to moor just one or two fishing boats.
A great change I thought and went walking along the beach. There was a bunch of tourists coming who knows where from on the planet, all of them with a nice tan that made them look particularly funny.
I approach the restaurant where my folks used to take us and luckily enough for me, the lady owner recognises me. She holds me tied as she used to do when we arrived each summer and makes me a million questions, so we have a long chat regarding those lost years while we enjoy a lunch full of delicious fishes and shellfishes. And to make a toast for the good old times, incredible amounts of very cold water of barley with plenty of lemon and sugar; I could hardly contain the emotion while submerging in these so many memories.
But El Chaco is now a new place an to honour so many good times I had decided to get to known this new face. Mrs Elena went to look for her nephew, who could get me into some tours visiting Paracas National Reserve and the Ballestas Islands.
Angel tells me that I need to show up at the pier first thing in the morning to embark on a trip to the Isles. I do so and at eight sharp there are already several tourists waiting. No boat has weighed anchor yet, they are all waiting for the tide to lessen a bit so we can better traverse between the Isles, for otherwise we would have to conform with going around the group and then coming back.
I spend more than half an hour talking to a family of Australians who decided to undertake the adventure of their lifetimes starting in South America. They hardly speak more than ten words in Spanish though it does not seem to be a problem; "we just wanted to travel", says this smiling head of family and I know what he means by looking at his eyes full of illusion.
It is almost nine o'clock and the "skippers" give a green light; it is time to get going. There is much racket for the number of tourists has increased considerably. We get aboard the motorboat, fasten our lifejackets, someone gives the boat a push and that is it, we are sailing.
Speed increases and it seems like we are floating over the sea. Minutes later the boat slows down and the guide points out towards the coast; the silhouette of a gigantic 120-metre high candelabrum is drawn on an immense dune. This figure, along with the Nazca Lines located in the Department of Ica, is one of the great mysteries on Peruvian archaeology, for so far nobody has been able to discover a thing regarding its origin or purpose for certain. The years go by and the theories come and go while the Candelabrum remains in there, greeting and seeing off all those who arrive or set sail.