We didn’t really want to leave our canyon oasis. The 4 hour uphill hike that awaited us was an excruciating thought. And that wasn’t going to be the only painful part of the next 24 hours. If we wanted to stay on schedule, we had a lot of ground to cover before we would arrive at our next destination: the sand dunes of Huacachina, Peru.

What a surprise it was when we got to the top and found we’d completed the hike in only 2 hours and 45 minutes! The hike had not been as hard as reports on the internet had lead us to believe. I even felt so energized at one point (listening to my favourite band, Metric) that I started to RUN up the rocky hill. That’s how I fell and cut my leg on a sharp rock. Mum, it’s completely scabbed over now! I will probably have a scar but it’s a travel-scar with a story attached, so well worth it. That said, I don’t recommend running up a canyon after you’ve been hiking for 2 hours.

Too many busses later, we arrived at another oasis, Huacachina. This one is surrounded by sand dunes. Two days and two oases, that’s South America for you.

The big thing to do in Huacachina is to take a dune buggy across the sand dunes and sandboard or sand-sled down. I was having doubts about this activity but Dan was giddy to try it. My risk-adverse instincts started to flare up when one tour operator told us that some of the drivers are a little “loco” and like to try crazy stunts out on the dunes. He assured me that there were others who were much more “suave”. If I was going to go dune-buggying, I had better get one of these “smooth” drivers. Telling myself to be adventurous, I signed up for a ride out to the dunes with Dan.

We departed around 4 pm when the sand is not as hot and better for boarding. Dan got sized for a sand-board, which is essentially a snowboard, while I decided to stick to a sand-sled. When I noticed the ages of the other passengers in our buggy, I sighed with relief. Three of the passengers were all middle-aged women. I thought, okay if they can do it, so can I. The relief didn’t last long. I quickly learned that taking risks has nothing to do with how old you are. Some people just have a much higher tolerance than I do.

Our driver was not one of the “suave” kind, he was probably more on the “loco” end of the spectrum. He took us up the most gigantic dunes in sight and plummeted down the other side. Sometimes, we drove down so fast that I could feel the buggy become airborne and lose contact with the sand under its tires. The closest comparison I can make is to a roller coaster, but I love roller coasters as I’m usually quite certain of their safety. I was not so certain of this contraption’s safety record. I had visions of us flipping over and rolling over and over and over down a dune. Meanwhile, everyone else in the buggy was shrieking with thrills of joy. I couldn’t make a sound for fear that I would encourage the driver to go faster and crazier. So I remained dead silent, contemplating my fate. Would they let me get out and walk back to town?

To make matters worse, at one point in the ride the driver miscalculated the angle of his wheels and the steepness of a hill and our buggy teetered precariously to one side. I started panicking, hyperventilating and tears welled up in my eyes. The 50+ woman sitting beside me actually had to console me through this ordeal. We all had to climb out of the buggy so that he could back us out of the tippy conundrum. I was hating Dan at this moment for having convinced me that the buggy would be fun. There is actually a video on Dan’s camera where you can hear me saying, “I hate you, I hate you”.

The woman sitting beside me became my best friend. She coached me through my panic, telling me to breathe and even yell as we went downhill to relieve my tension. This made me a feel a lot better and I even, sort of, started to enjoy myself. By the end of the trip, I even felt confident enough to try the sand-sled. Wow, was that an adrenaline rush, as if my blood hadn’t had enough adrenaline already.

I should mention that Dan absolutely adored the experience and we have very different stories to tell. Sand-boarding for him was the highlight of our entire trip so far. We also got to see an amazing sunset over the dunes.

But I’m going to stop talking because we have a video that we made to recap the epic 24 hour journey. (You will see me looking like I am enjoying the buggy ride in this video–just proves that I too have learned good acting skills from my parents. I was putting on my bravest face for all of you.)