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7.03.10: Ica, Peru

Exploring Ica

Today I woke up and took a ten minute cab ride into Central Ica to the Ica Museum, which was recommended to me by some fellow travelers.
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Turns out that this was not the best advice I have ever received because I was bored… to death. It was nothing special at all. Actually, that’s an overstatement. I find the growth of my finger nails to be tantalizing than this museum.
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The only entertaining part was at the very end of the museum, where there were mummies and skeletons displayed.
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I only got to snap one quick photo before my camera started malfunctioning and the lens would not retract. My world came to a screeching halt and I could think of nothing further than my busted camera. I had been warned that this could happen after bringing a camera to a sandy place; the sand will obstruct the lens and cause it to stop working. I was definitely on edge until I tracked down a camera repair shop. For a hefty fee of 140 soles, I dropped my baby off to be repaired for the day.
I headed back to the hostel and made a reservation for a tour of an Ica winery which I had been anticipating from the beginning of the trip. Besides the Huacachina oasis, Ica is primarily known for their bodegas that produce wine and Pisco and its largest producer, Tacama, was first on the tour. There were only 4 of us that opted to go on the tour; Max and me and an English couple that was staying in the same hostel. We hopped in the car and headed out for the 30 minute journey to the vineyard.
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We headed inside and sat at a table shaped like a wine barrel. The hostess put on a DVD for us to watch while we waited. I thought it might explain something about the vineyard or the process of making the wine, but it was simply a picture show of sudden dissolves between black and white pictures morphing to color that begged for a different editor. We sat and waited for a while before a woman came over and poured us our first glass of white wine and handed us a booklet. She pointed out the wine that she was pouring and tried to educate us with the literature, unfortunately, it was only in Spanish and there was no translation. When I signed up for the tour, they informed me that there would be an English-speaking guide, even if it was a mere piece of paper that translated for us. We asked for the English version and our request was met with a head shake and a simple shoulder shrug as she turned and walked away.
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We drank our glass of wine, knowing nil about it, expect that it was white and fruity, and lingered around, waiting for our guide. Twenty minutes later, the woman appeared again with another bottle of white wine, poured us all a glass and pointed to a new page in the booklet. We drank and chatted some more. Another 20 minutes later, she returned and repeated her actions with a new wine. Over the course of an hr and a half she did this same process with 4 white wines, 3 red wines, and 3 different kinds of Pisco, that, by that time, all tasted like tequila.
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Finally 7 glasses of wine and 3 shots of Pisco later, a group and a guide showed up, ready to teach us about the vineyard. Sloshed and sloppy after the drinking festivities, I actually forgot that we were waiting on anything, but I gathered my stuff and joined the group, enthused on the education I was about to receive. As I dragged myself behind the group, into the vineyard, the guide started explaining the growing process. I didn’t know if it was the alcohol or what, but I could not understand a damn thing this lady was saying, or anyone else in the group for that matter. It took me a few minutes to realize that she was speaking German along with everyone else in the group.
Come to find out, the English-speaking guide did not show up to work, so they fed us wine for two hours hoping to stall us with drunkenness until he showed up, which he never did, so they decided to put us with the Germans, hoping that we would be too wasted to tell the difference. We could tell… it may have taken a little longer, but we could tell. So instead of a winery tour, it turned into a bar outing.
Our driver told us that he would make it up to us but taking us on a tour of a local chocolate factory. After all the alcohol and no lunch, chocolate was the magic word, so I gladly agreed.
Unfortunately, in Peru, when they tell you that you are going on a tour of a chocolate factory, what they mean is that you are going to stand in line at a candy store. No joke. We pulled up in front of a candy store, swarming with children and waited behind the sugar filled beasts for 30 minutes without being even being noticed. After a half hour the hunger demon inside of my wine-filled belly roared its ugly head and I bolted for the door, frustrated and neglected. We had the cab drop us off in the center of Ica, where I ate a great meal of I don’t remember what and passed out.

Posted by emichele 08:55 Archived in Peru

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