Quick Sand

Trip Start Jun 12, 2011
Trip End Oct 22, 2012

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Flag of Peru  ,
Saturday, August 25, 2012

So we continued our journey down the coast of Peru. Stopping for a couple of days in Lima to catch our breath after our jaunts to Easter Island and the Amazon, and to get some laundry done! We took in the colonial architecture in the Plaza de Armas and had Pisco Sours in Quierolo, Lima's oldest bar.  We also visited the old court of the Spanish Inquisition, now the Museo de Inquisition, and the Banco Reserva which now houses a ton of pre Colombian art and outstanding examples of pottery from the Moche, Nazcas, Incas and most other pre-Colombian tribes.  The pottery was particularly fascinating, not only because of the great condition that it is in but also the designs were very appealing to me.

Our next stop was the Oasis village of Huacachina, near the coastal town of Ica.  Here we went sandboarding and dune buggying in the desert.  Both of us succeeded at the boarding without falling on our bums too much and it was a great adrenaline filled way to spend an afternoon topped off by a lovely sunset over the desert.

Our last spot on the coast before heading into the highlands was Nazca, the sight of the famous Nasca Lines.  Although no one really knows why the lines were formed as the Nasca’s were wiped out by the Incas, they cover an area of red gravel desert over 500km squared.  Many tell you that the best way to see the lines is from the air, but the Nasca’s didn’t have planes and they were never designed to be seen in this way.  The touts that sell these flights don’t tend to be from Nazca and so, not only do the profits not benefit the Nazca people, but the marketing people have also changed the meaning of some of the geoglyphs calling the mocking bird a condor, as Peru is known for its condors, the frog as hands as they are more easily seen as such and the seaweed as a tree. 

The lines are formed of a series of straight lines, geometric shapes as well as natural forms many of which are birds, also a monkey, dog, spider among others.  Some of the lines are small but some of the shapes span over 200 metres.  Many of them form a singular path that can be followed.  For me the most amazing thing about them is how well they have been preserved.  They were formed by the Nasca culture between 400-650 AD and are shallow forms in the ground formed only by brushing aside the red gravel to reveal the lighter lime rocks below.  There has been some human impact on the lines and you can see the tracks of cars across many of them from the early days of tourism when the extent of the lines was unknown and also the Pan-American Highway intersects the Lizard but apart from that they are pretty well preserved.  The Nazca Desert is one of the driest in the world receiving only 5mm of rain per year and with very little winds.  It’s is only because of this that the lines have survived but with global warming and changing weather patterns the rain and winds are increasing and so unless some effort is made to preserve the lines they could in the future be lost forever.
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