Over a small sandbar protruding into the sea there is a rock with the shape of a church tower, with a sort of cave in the middle facing the sea. Other tourist groups are already there, taking pictures and allowing themselves to be trapped by the charm every cave hides inside.
We watch the walls while entering the place, the rocks on the ground resembling benches, the water flowing gently and the waves breaking hard on the other side of the cave. Don Josť, our guide, explains us that various seabird species live in here along with the sea otter, unfortunately a species on the brink of extinction.
We get out of the cave, climb up to the dune's top, and walk along the edge of the cliff to get a better view of the Cathedral's tower, and to shoot our own versions of one of the most famous images in the Department of Ica.
We are back on the bus though this time for lunch. We arrive in Lagunilla, a beach with a very particular landscape. The sand at the shore is of a pretty intense red earth colour that contrasts with the golden dunes surrounding the beach.
I jumped off the bus with infancy memories rushing inside of me. Once my family and I got lost for an entire day in the desert trying to find this beach, on one of our innumerable adventures in this place.
We all share a table at the restaurant and enjoy a variety of fresh seafood and fishes while Don Josť tells us about his anecdotes. The foreigners try to smile while they gulp down large glasses of water, the cebiche is too spicy and their faces turn even redder that chilli itself. We all laugh and toast for the aliens' bravery.
Lunch is over and we go for a short walk until Don Josť's cries warn us it is time to go and fast, for as he points out, there is one of the famous sand "rains", a sand storm, approaching us at high-speed.
We seek refuge in the bus and retake the route. We sometimes feel like characters in the middle of a movie running away from this wall of sand. It is truly fun and adds a quota of emotion to this trip. When we finally arrive at the field museum we have to run to the door because the sand rain has caught us and pierces our skins hurting us like with a thousand needles.
We enter the museum sheathed with sand and it is frankly amusing to see everybody else with sand up to their ears, even though I am in the same regrettable conditions. Don Josť takes us inside the Julio C. Tello Museum, and showcase after showcase we learn something about one of the most important cultures in this part of the country.
The Paracas formed a society that developed between the years 700 and 1 BC, and which astonished the world with the beautifulness of their woven mantles. Some of these pieces are exhibited in the museum, along with skulls that have undergone trepanations as part of some healing practice. One can also appreciate some dioramas depicting everyday life on this culture. Another thing that particularly called my attention was the deformed skulls, deformations that according to experts were initiated since early age and were a symbol of nobility.
The sand storm is over and we can return to El Chaco. My partners in adventure go back to Pisco for they are going to continue to Nazca, I stop before the pier once again and watch a group of children having fun while trying to get inside some paracas (small sand whirlwinds), just like my brothers and I used to do when we were kids.
Paracas is mystery, beauty and history, all trapped on the coasts of a place that grows unceasingly, a place that offers the warmth of its people and its weather to visitors. Now it has a new face I am glad I have discovered, for now I will go back full of new memories.