Friday, 2 March 2012

The Nazca Lines

Another sleepless overnight bus later (despite our exhaustion from the Colca Canyon hike) and we were in Nazca, staying at a fantastic B&B (Nazca Trails) with hammocks strung up in a quiet garden under mango trees laden with fruit.  We caught up on some much needed sleep in the morning with Sarah spending it  reminiscing about her childhood days when she had the chicken pox and had to be covered in calamine lotion.  The reaction to the detergent was still extremely itchy so we'd found a chemist and Sarah was now a light shade of pink, head to toe...

That evening, after another quality feed in a Chifa, we visited the highly recommended Planetarium.  Before the 'IMAX' show began we got to look through a telescope and check out Jupiter and it's four moons.  It was actually the first time either of us had seen Jupiter and it was really impressive until Dave simplified the experience by comparing it to a cricket ball (the NZ-ers nearby concurred).

The show itself was very well done, mixing the current popular theories in order to explain many of the different aspects of the Nazca lines, the main two theories being that the lines are a result of ceremonies which point to water sources and secondly that they have astronomical links to the summer/winter solstice etc.. It also described the life of Mary Reich very well, which was interesting as we had no idea who she was beforehand.  Turns out that she was a local hero for bringing international attention to the Nazca lines and saving them from being bulldozed so that the land could be used for farming.  We even got to see inside her room at the hotel where she spent the last years of her life, not something every tour group gets to do...

'9 fingered man'
The next afternoon we went on our much anticipated tour of the Nazca lines.  Our tour guide, Marko, was an enthusiast and explained everything in depth and with passion.  From the 'Metallic Tower' we saw the famous '9 fingered hand', the 'tree' and many of the geometric shapes.  We were most impressed by the immensity of the lines, some stretching for kilometres!

Mummy with tattoos and hair
We did a tour of the museum where M. Reich is buried with her sister which also had an urelated exhibition of a well preserved, rare mummy that has ancient tattoos.  After the museum we went to the natural mirador (i.e. a hill) from which you can see how far the lines stretch and where you can also stand at the beginning of the line pointing to the summer solstice.  Since we'd managed to fluke being there the day before the solstice, the sunset almost perfectly lined up with the line on the horizon.

Sunset over the Nazca desert
The sunset we saw in the desert goes down as one if the most spectacular we've ever witnessed, with the clouds radiating vivid shades of red and orange like fireballs rolling across the sky. Combine this with a very random rainbow and the location and it made it unforgettable.

As dusk arrived we drove back to town, found another Chifa for dinner' followed by lúcuma icecream for dessert, and then we waited for our 1am bus to take us onto the capital, Lima.

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