A line in the sand...lots of them!

Trip Start May 23, 2010
Trip End Aug 31, 2010

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Flag of Peru  ,
Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rejuvenated by our couple of nights in a 'proper' city, we arrived at Lima bus terminal for our departure to Nasca.  In the waiting room, they were showing a breakfast TV programme showcasing some Peruvian music, specifically jazz/traditional fusion.  The combination of wailing, panpipes and saxophones was an acquired taste...perhaps best acquired after going deaf in both ears.

Much more to our liking was the bus, which had all the mod cons and was a relief after some of the transportation that we've endured so far on this trip (see entries for Belize!).  They even showed films in English on the telly, though by the time that the atrocious 'Marlie & Me' came on, I was thankful for the fascinating scenery out of the window.  Enormous golden brown sand dunes stretched out into the distance, some so large and coloured in such a way as to look like mountain ranges.  As the bus weaved between the dunes out into the Southern Peruvian desert, real mountains did appear: monolithic, craggy rock ridges that reached up into an azure blue sky.

After 7 hours on the road, we arrived in Nasca, greeted by our hostel owner Juan, who speaks remarkable English on account of his having lived in Hackney for some years.  In my experience, his English was far better than most Hackney residents, in fact.

Nasca is a small and dusty agricultural town, famed for the pre-Inca Nasca Lines.  These so-called geoglyphs are a large collection of enormous shapes marked on the desert floor, some abstract shapes, some geometric and many stylised images of animals.  The Nasca people drew them by using surveying techniques and then clearly 'paths' of volcanic rock and dirt, and thanks to the arid conditions in the locale, they have remained visible ever since.  They've caused a lot of head-scratching in the archaeological community, since no-one is really sure why they were created.  Some say they are maps of constellations; others that they chart the routes of water sources and Nasca aqueducts that are present beneath the ground.  More unusual suggestions are that they are running tracks or landing sites for aliens.  Probably the most plausible is that they were created as offerings to the gods and formed venues for ceremonies.  Either that, or God was a doodler.

The next morning, we were at the airport ready to take a flight over the lines.  We squeezed into the backseat of our tiny Cessna plane, piloted by America and his co-pilot, comedy double act and possibly lover, Angel.  I say that not because of their dubious monikers, but because Angel spent much of the flight with his arm around America's shoulders, which they both seemed to like.  Emma was a little worried about motion sickness in such a small plane; I was more concerned about being overpowered by the volatile combination of aftershaves that Angel & America had bathed in for the occasion.  It seems that Brut and Hai Karate are still going great guns in the South American market.

Soon we were up in the air, bumping around and taking wing-tip turns over the lines, with Angel giving us the names over our headphones: whale, monkey, astronaut, spider, tree, hands, dog, South Utsire, German Bight...(one for the Radio 4 listeners, there).  They were amazing things to behold, and quite how they were drawn so well without the aid of flight is indeed miraculous.  Unfortunately, all the tilting back and forth inthe plane made Ems feel a little green...thank the gods indeed for the plastic bag!

Side note: we'd found some black sweetcorn in a supermarket in Lima,
which we decided to have for dinner.  Disgusting.  There's a
good reason it's not sold anywhere else.

The next day, we visited the Museo Antonini, which was set up by a team of Italian archaeologists who had begun excavations across the areas in the 1980s.  It was pretty interesting as we saw some intricate textiles and potteries, decorated joyfully cartoonish depictions of kings and gods.  Less endearing were some of the mummified heads on display: just outside of Nasca is an ancient cemetery where the dirt has blown away over successive years to reveal the tombs of this ancient people.  Still, I told Emma that although she's approaching 30, she looks better than the 25 year old's head on display.  She went very quiet after that and started looking at exhibits on her own.

As if Em's stomach hadn't had enough punishment from the flight, we tried having our first Peruvian Chinese meal...turns out that chicken with pineapple isn't quite the same as back home and went mostly untouched.  Nothing a couple of Pisco sours didn't cure her of, though.  Tony - best forget the gin, she'll be insisting you stock up on some Pisco ahead of future visits!
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Jen Fox on

Hi Em, Andy! The pics are amazing and its wonderful to be able to keep up with you as you make your way around South America. Its not quite as glamours here in London, but we get by. Looking forward to the next few installments and to seeing you when you get back. Miss you Em, lots of love Jen xxx

Colin on

Did you know they used 18 different Labrador Retriever's in the filming of Marley & Me?

honty on

That makes me hate it even more. Not even that many dogs could make the film good!

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