The Gift of the Huacachina Dunes
In vast, open spaces the wind hums across the sand, singing to the heavens above. The grains leap into the air and swirl around his toes, fingers, cheeks, and finally the curls of his hair.
His face sparkles with tiny reflections as the glittering sand grasps the last hints of daylight. I strain my ears to capture the tiny, whispers that drift from his lips.
“My favorite part of Christmas is this. The sun, the sand, the outdoors.”
He doesn’t know I heard him. He wasn’t speaking to me. I stole his secret and stored away his poetry in the brightest corners of my heart.
In these moments I am satisfied. He is only three and yet we have achieved what we set out to do from the beginning. To teach him that things mean nothing, and experiences are everything.
We asked him, several months ago, what he wanted for Christmas. He and his sister together, made the choice to make it to Huacachina, Peru. The largest sand dunes in the world.
We have talked about it daily since then, amplifying the anticipation. Much like we all do for Christmas Day. We talk about Santa and Jesus,too. But, we don’t obsess about them or the “gifts” associated with their presence.
Instead, we focus on the present. Appreciating what we have, being true to who we are, letting go of material expectations, and cherishing the big, beautiful world around us.
Life is not about a commercial holiday. It is about celebrating each and every day that we are granted. If a three year old can grasp that, there is still hope for the future of human civilization.
The History and Legend of Huacachina
Huacachina is a large, desert oasis tucked into the Peruvian desert a few hours south of Lima. The tiny villages is said to have a local population of less than 100 people.
It is characterized by a small, natural lagoon sunk into the crevices of the sandy mountains, framed by palm trees and quaint, rustic buildings.
The area was discovered in the 1940’s and was regarded as luxury spa destination for the wealthy folks of Lima. People believed that the lagoon had healing properties. Less than 10 years later the village lost it’s appeal and seemed destined to become a ghost town.
It sat quiet and barren for several decades until a businessman offered tourists a unique excursion, to explore the sand dunes in a 4X4 dune buggy. This happened in the early 1990’s and catapulted the locale into an adventure seekers paradise for worldwide travelers.
Just like all of the best travel destinations, this place has a fascinating legend that explains it’s unique existence.
It is said that a beautiful, virgin maiden lived here in the countryside. She was promised to a god, to stay here and remain pure for him, never to pair up with a mortal man.
One day as she sat in the hills combing her hair and admiring her reflection in a mirror. Her eyes caught site of a hunter who was passing through. She couldn’t help it but to long for him from first sight.
In rage and despair, the god cast a spell on the woman, turning her into a mermaid and inhibiting her ability to leave. Her clothing was cast to the side, falling down in drapes that created the dunes.
In the commotion, she tossed her mirror into the sky. It came crashing down to create the lake that is know called the oasis.
Huacachina is an indigenous, Quechwa name that pairs two words meaning woman and cry.
Some folks say that the mermaid can still be see in the lagoon, on nights beneath the full moon. She is rumored to call out to single men passing time, trying to lure them into her pool for a swim.