It was difficult to leave Lima, especially Miraflores and its abundance of ambrosial food and gorgeous coastline, but we found a host in Ica, and were looking forward to exploring the nearby sand dunes around the tiny oasis town of Huacachina. Legend has it that the lagoon, called the Oasis of America, was created when a beautiful native princess was accosted by a young hunter while bathing in the waters. She fled, leaving the pool of water she was bathing in to become the lagoon, and the folds of her headdress, streaming behind her as she ran, became the surround sand dunes. The princess is rumored to still live in the oasis as a mermaid.
Currently, private landowners near the oasis have built wells to access the groundwater. This has drastically reduced the amount of water in the oasis. To compensate for this water loss, and preserve the oasis as a tourist destination, the city began a process of artificially pumping water into the oasis. This, combined with the fact that Ica is the pisco and wine producing region of Peru (in the middle of the dessert), makes for interest politics concerning the distribution of water.
We spent the majority of our time touring pisco vineyards with our hilarious host Ber. On our first day of tours he showed us the typical tourist spots, which offered tours of the viñedos and free samples of the variety of piscos and liquers. We learned a great amount about pisco, as Ber seemed to be friends with every workers at every vineyard. We learned about the varieties of grapes: Torontel and Mosto Verde are made from strictly white grapes, while Italia and Quebranta is made from only green grapes, and Ancholado (and a few other types) is a blend of two or more grapes. Some piscos are known for their nose and aroma, while others are known for their mouth and finish.
On our second day of pisco touring Ber took us to the countryside and we were afforded a truly unique experience. After an hour of winding through dirt roads and tiny farming villages, we arrived at small house with barred windows and small porch. We hesitantly exited the car as Ber knocked on the wooden window pane. After a few minutes an old man opened appeared an opened the window. Ber and him exchanged only a few words and suddenly we were handed a large vase full of pisco to “sample” before we decided if wanted to buy more. The old man was the third generation of pisco makers in his family and his pisco was delicious and strong. We shared great times with Ber and plan to see him Brazil for the World Cup.