Epic Journey. Part 10. Nazca

4/28  ARQ>NZCA

I’m a bit better today.  Mostly sticking to bread.  I was hoping to do a gastro tour or cooking class today before taking the night bus to Nazca, but never heard back from them so I’m on the afternoon bus out of town.  Arequipa was nice, but I’d missed my chance to take a tour to Colca Canyon by the time I found out about the cooking class and didn’t feel like wasting another day strolling around town.  Figured it would be more worth my rapidly ending time to cruise through Peru’s southwestern landscape by daylight.

So far the show hasn’t failed to impress.  We came out of the industrial valleys to this Mars-like desert plateau.  In both directions, as far as you can see is reddish sand dunes, and I think we are driving through some kind of dust storm.  We rose up and over one of the dunes, and there was the Pacific Ocean stretched out to the setting sun.  Hello old friend.  Happy to see her, but sad she’ll lead me to my final destination in a couple days.

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On another note, Cruz del Sur busses are the shit.  I got a pretty cheap seat ($30/8 hrs), and this comes with two meals, movies and beverage service.  Puts air travel to shame.  I opted for the vegetarian option (yes there is that!) due to my still iffy stomach situation. I didn’t have high hopes, but figured it would be less bad wasting shitty frozen veggies or equally frozen lasagna if my appetite wasn’t back.  The lunch meal was surprisingly tasty.  Sweet and sour seitan w/ white rice.  I took the risk and ate it, but have gone 6 hours with crapping!  Woo hoo!

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To my surprise and happiness, after the food the attendant passed out bingo cards!  I’d seen this in Argentina (and won!), but not since and no one seems to know what I’m talking about when I mention it.  So over the microphone the attendant reads off the number and letter combos, while the passengers tick off the boxes.  I’m proud to say I’m two-for-two on South American Bus Bingo, its a natural skill I guess.  In Argentina the prize was a bottle of wine, but here it was a discount on a future bus trip which I knew I wouldn’t have time to use, so game continued.  But you and I know I won…

Next stop Nazca!!  These lines have been an obsession of mine for years!  I’m booked in for a fly over and should be set to realize this dream tomorrow.  It sounds like a dicey flight, I don’t care if I shit my pants and puke on myself;  I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THOSE FUCKERS!!!

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4/29  Nazca Lines

Its been 8 or 9 years.  I remember sitting in my living room in Studio City and watching some late night Netflix.  I caught some Alien Mystery type show that featured the Nazca Lines.  Like ancient precursors to crop circles, locked into place for centuries here in the desert.  No one knows how or why they are there for sure.  Some say irrigation others say alien landing strips.  I don’t know.  Like I felt many times before on this trip, I’m less inclined to believe in alien intervention, but the fact that you can only take in these designs from the sky is a tough thing to explain.  I guess these are the “facts” more or less.  They were created around 400-600 AD in an area almost 200 square miles around.  They range from 150 feet long to 890 feet long, and have been preserved thanks to the consistent desert climate.

I can’t say I wasn’t a bit nervous going in.  My second night way-back-when with Daniela in Lima, I was warned about taking this flight.  She told me her dad works in aviation regulation, and the Nazca aerodrome is notorious for lax regulation and accidents. Before I could think about it too much, I was walking onto the tarmac to my chariot.  A 6 seat, one prop Cessna.  I had read all sorts of horror stories (besides Daniela’s warning) about turbulence and hard banks, but the flight itself was actually fun.  Yes the girl next to me got sick, but even though I’m no big fan of heights or flying, the excitement must’ve numbed my fear receptors.

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The lines are absolutely amazing.  The fly over was quick, but those sights were possibly the coolest fucking things I have ever seen.  Ancient structures are impressive and intresting, but soaring above these glyphs was like getting a glimpse into messages from another dimension.  ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!  Pictures don’t really do them justice, but after a hard bank, the pilot would say “right wing!” and there on the ground are these mystifying works of art for the gods.  I felt giddy.

The variety of images is interesting in itself.  Orca, monkey, hummingbird; all of which they don’t have in the middle of the desert. Not to mention the round-faced “astronaut” waving to the heavens, etched to the side of a mountain.

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the astronaut

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the monkey

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the hummingbird

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the spider

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the condor

Its hard to grasp the scale of these things by the photos.  For instance The Condor above is 440 feet, below is a zoom into the smaller glyph called The Hands coming in at about 50 feet.  After that is a photo I snapped from the ground level of The Hands when my bus went by.  Not much to see when you’re not in flight.

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The 30 minute or so flight went by in a snap, and before I knew it I was back on the ground glowing with happiness.  The over flight is not hard to do, dozens of tourists do it everyday.   But I feel like I had been let in on a secret.  As cheesy as it sounds, I feet different.  As the adventure winds down, a major booster shot in my enchantment with the heart of America.

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Even with my short time in Nazca, I have to say I liked the little town.  It was dirty, loud and pretty much lacking character, but something about it was familiar.  I guess the relative proximity to the ocean (you can feel it in the air), and the fact that I’m not in the altiplano anymore, lends itself to reminisce about tropical central american/caribbean locales I’m accustomed to.

Found a nice restaurant for lunch near the Plaza de Armas.  Mamashana has all sorts of options, but although my appetite and stomach hadn’t quite returned to normal;  I saw tacu tacu on the menu and couldn’t resist.  Tacu tacu al pobre to be exact.  Steak, egg, plantains all atop a mound of crispy, re-fried rice and beans.  Super tasty and VERY filling.  I’ll be making this one at home when I get back.

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I was in Nazca for little more than 24 hours.  Arriving at my $15 utility hotel (Hotel Juaregui) at 11:30 PM last night, leaving for my over flight at 8 AM this morning, and now on the bus to Lima at 12:30 PM.  I had booked it all ahead in Arequipa (although would’ve been cheaper if I had more time and booked in Nazca), and it went smoother than I could’ve imagined.

And here I am, on the final bus ride for this epic journey.  Destination Lima.  Snagged the wrap-around-view of the front seat of my bus and watching the Pan American Highway click by.  I’ll spend my last couple days in the beach suburb of Lima; Barranco.  Then its on to the next one, whatever that is.  Hard to think about this being over, but will soak in every last experience in Barranco.

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Little crappy video I made of the over-flight.

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