A few days before I left on this adventure, a friend asked me what I was most looking forward to. I said... sandboarding. Which was a slightly bizarre thing to say, given that anyone who knows me knows I'm into pretty much every type of adventure except adventure sports (at least in practice). But I'd heard that Peru was the place to do it, and it sounded so unbelievable that I knew I had to try it.
So after four days in Lima, I downloaded the audiobook of Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me and hopped on a bus to Huacachina: sandboarding (and debauchery) capital of central Peru. From the moment I arrived at my hostel, Banana's Adventure, I felt a bit out of place. My messy bun, running leggings, and makeup-free face stood in stark contrast to the half-dozen blonde women lounging by the pool in crocheted bikinis, beaded crop tops (not joking), and Oxi-Cleaned short shorts. In feigned self-confidence, I whipped out my laptop to start working on a freelance job and ordered the first of many chocolate treats to wile away the afternoon. (As always, the diet starts tomorrow.)
But then I struck gold. After the sun set, I wandered out into the common area and found the four other people in my room playing some strange Swiss card game called Ligretto. I asked if I could join, they dealt me into a new game of Golf (where my score was so low/bad that Jessie actually WhatsApp'd her mom a photo it), and the rest is history. We played cards for hours — with a nearby round of "Never Have I Ever..." as our soundtrack (questions included "Never have I ever had sex in a graveyard" and "Never have I ever slept with a dude.") — and I felt like I'd found my tribe.
Jessie & Calvin (a lovely married couple from Vancouver BC) and Sheila & Owain (from Ireland and Wales, respectively) had initially met when they were all living in Vancouver a couple of years ago. Their divergent travel plans had serendipitously merged together near Lima, and they were now a traveling quartet... soon to gain a fifth wheel.
The next day, we all went sandboarding. I sat in the front seat of the dune buggy with a French woman whose name I will never know, instinctively grasping her hand every time we raced down a sand dune. We spent the afternoon sliding downhill on wooden boards, simultaneously terrified and feeling insanely alive. But in the end, the best part of checking this item off of my bucket list wasn't, as I had anticipated, the activity itself. It was the people I met.