“We’re out of gas!” yells Louise, as the head of the petite Aussie just peaks past the crest of the sand dune some 300 m above us.
With the exception of Louise and Cindy, who decided to sit this hill out, the rest of us are at the bottom of a valley waiting with our sandboards, covered in a mixture of sunscreen, sweat and sand. We had just sandboarded down what was supposed to be our last run.
“We’re out of gas?!” I yell back.
“Yes, the buggy won’t start!”
I look back at Marina and Killlian and smile.
“I think the girls are trying to play a joke on us,” I suggest.
On the past 3 runs, after we had sandboarded down the dune, our buggy driver, Jesus, would drive down the dune and pick us up, pack up our boards and drive us over to the next run. After this last, and most vertical run, we were supposed to be taken back to the Huacachina Oasis for some much needed lunch and relief from the scorching sun (all of us had a bit too much Pisco liquor earlier that morning while on a ‘winery’ tour).
“I don’t think they’re joking” says our guide, Luciano, in his unique Spanish/Italian/French accent.
After a number of minutes pass, I realize we are not going to hear a punchline to the joke I had suspected; we are stranded in the middle of the Peruvian desert with Jesus.
And despite Jesus’ biblical success in the desert, this lesser Jesus is having no luck with the simple act of starting a buggy.
He also has little success locating a cell phone signal to ask for assistance from his co-workers back at the Huacachina lagoon.
There are a total of 10 of us including our guide and Jesus.
We have very little water, no shade apart from the shade we create for each other and we are surrounded by kilometers of fine sand desert.
And it’s hot as balls.
In a moment of mini-panic, Killian, Marina and I decide to climb back up the almost vertical slope of sinking sand, while Barry and the 2 British girls, Jessica and Tambee decide to wait it out in the valley.
Jesus is still struggling with his cell phone reception.
Finally, he gets through, and we are assured help is on the way.
About 20 minutes later, our help arrives in the form of 5 of Jesus’ laughing coworkers (or disciples) in another buggy.
Given we had now all been out in the middle of the desert under the midday sun for over an hour longer than predicted, we had assumed this other buggy was here to pick us up.
Or at the very least, we hoped Jesus’ disciples had some mechanical skills between the 5 of them or an extra tank of gas to remedy the suspected lack thereof.
We were wrong on both counts.
Rather than packing us up into the functioning buggy, they decided to drain gas from it into a plastic bottle – all the while spilling much of the gas onto the sand – and then transferring said gas into the non-functional buggy.
After we joined Barry, Jessica and Tambee down in the valley, Louise’s head yet again popped up from behind the crest of the dune.
“It’s still not working!”
“Forget 40 days, this Jesus couldn’t last a day in the desert”, joked Killian.
After a few false starts, the struggling engine of our buggy finally coughed to life.
Before long, we were all back to safety, enjoying some Peruvian cuisine for our much delayed, but now discounted lunch.
Even more enjoyable was the shade, drink of water, and a swim in a refreshing pool within the desert oasis.
From what I can gather, Jesus will need nothing short of a miracle to keep his job.
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