Appendix or not? Sick in Ica.
29th of July we leave Lima and Barranco after Independence Day, leave the smog and fog, or haze and dust, or what ever it is; sad fact is Lima never sees the sun, at least not this winter time of the year. The mega-city hosts a different micro climate in every other part of what is more a middle sized county; north to south one hundred kilometers long at least. Around the coastal areas of Chorillos, Barranco and Miraflores the nightly drizzle hits with an astounding regularly, and the strangest phenomenon feels like oil slick when the moist settles on the skin.
We hit the Panamericana south into the unknown desert and the white fog; we are not prepared, I don't know what to expect, just want to get away from Lima. Already late in Cerro Azul, we walk the beach of pebbles, dead gulls, dead pelicans and dead jellyfish, not the most inviting place and Daniel complains already about his stomach.
Somehow then we miss the exit to the Lunahuaná wine country, where we wanted to go, get into Chincha at dusk and head on into the night. Of Pisco my Lima friend Toño has warned me dearly, don't stop, and we reach Paracas. The magic number pops up and Daniel can't walk, shivers, he carries an evil monkey in his stomach. At night I massage his belly, back, hands and arms, give him a paracetamol suppository when his fever goes high and he sleeps calmly; what has hit the poor baby here I wonder? Appendix?
Good morning Almighty; a doctor in the Paracas centro de salut suggest exactly this and sends us to a hospital in Ica, 60kms further south, he recommends the dubious private Virgin de Rossario clinic and the senile ultra sound doctor on a rusty machine confirms; he sees an abscess on the appendix that needs operating. His college who would perform the operation though disagrees and prescribes antibiotics against, and we had that before, salmonellae.
Time to keep a cool head, I am not satisfied with the findings, and after buying some sandwiches, I contact my Lima friend Toño, who has a sister, who is a doctor, and she recommends seeing Hospital Essalud and redo the tests. With Daniel still pretty weak and suffering, the very competent staff explain and doubt the appendix findings, and send us to Hospital de Solidaridad to do the testing.
Solidaridad on the first glance is a cheap set of warlike metal containers, each houses a different medical sections, and in a long line I have to wait to pay and get receipts that allow me to enter the containers.
We spend the rest of the day here, blood and urin samples are taken, in the end the ultrasound performed by young motivated professional doctors on modern machines. They categorically deny a problem exists with the appendix and at the late hour explain, he has eaten too many pizzas and burgers and fries, which is a bit the true story, and I should better change their diet to soup and mashed potatoes and rice.
And not really to much of a surprise Daniel feels much better all of a sudden, and I too.
We drive to Huacachina, 4 kms away, which is a small oasis, a lake set in the middle of high sand dunes scape. As the doctors have recommended I order soup and the boys don't like it, but still eat some, because I threaten that this would remain their main dish for the time to come.
In the morning, by Daniel's eating habits one can tell that he is almost completely restored, digs in a huge egg sandwich, and another one with jam, drinks a full cup of camomile tea. Then he sets out with his brother to climb the highest dune around and spends all day in the pool.
So what was that?
With Daniel steering out of troubles, still, these are not the times to move fast, we stay put in the oasis of Huacachina and there is so much to do for the boys. Soon they take the sand boards up the dunes and try their luck surfing, and 3 days into our stay I cannot escape their demands to venture on a dune buggy trip.
The morning comes when it drives us out, and back north to Paracas, where we wanted to go originally. Over ceviche I think what to do, as the waves are high and the boats stopped going for the moment to the island of San Gallán. But this is not the only attraction, the mainland of the Paracas National Reservation is rough desert and color beauty enough for an afternoon of exploring.
The morning after comes and we leave again for the unknown south, and the mornings are hazy dull, the deserts around only slightly distinguishes themselves from the white skies overhead. Then it clears a bit, and also some lush valleys cut through the bleak, we approach the red stone fields of the world famous Nasca lines and geoglyphs, Wikipedia concludes 'Archeologists, historians and mathematicians have all struggled with determining the purpose of the lines' (wiki).
PS. Maybe we should have taken a plane to fly over the terrain, maybe one day we will, when the boys are older and appreciative.
The town of Nasca some more miles down the road over the red hamada doesn't feel safe and I only stop to buy some bananas, pick up more cash for the remaining long road, all while the boys sleep. Then we head on, always further south into the unknown and soon again the white fog of the afternoon engulfs. A turnoff right invites for a detour over the mountains, a climb to 1,000m where the clouds in drizzle almost touch the desert sands and pebbles. At the coast then we hit the rough coastal fishing, port and mining town, San Juan de Marcona, barracks only. 'There is no other way out' tells me the teenage lady at the toll-booth, so really surprised what I am doing here. At the edge of Marcona I find an old mechanic who busies himself on some rusty wagon of same age, he must have seen the cars coming and going over many years and seen the road building, and sure enough he knows the other, old, dysfunct road south.
'Turn right after the airfield, it is a straight line', and off into a little thrilling adventure to out-of-nowhere we go. This is over lonely desert country, a road not traveled anymore, the big pebbles grow out of the laterite, the sands blow over and create sandy patches and small dunes; ensablement, arenamiento. An accident here and certainly nobody would come to rescue us in days, in the middle of the stretch walking out would take a half day at least. But we get through and reach the Panamericana again before dusk, soon we hit the coast again, and when it is almost dark a huge mountain rises and the skies clear unexpectedly, the fishing village of Tanaca, dead safe. At night a million stars shine, morning is completely white and overcast again, and the boys and I die of hunger.
Yes, by now I know why Peru has 'lights always on' rules like Nordic countries; because at the coast the sun never shines, the white fog, a veil so impenetrable, is the culprit. So we clock another few hundred kilometers, have a sandwich in Chala, later after late lunch in Camaná which the boys and I dislike and eventually reject, we leave the coast that is all the same, foggy, cold; - all the same, and we deserve better...