Nazca Lines and Mummies

Trip Start Oct 10, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Welcome Inn Hostel

Flag of Peru  ,
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

We were woken on our night bus yesterday from Arequipa to Nazca at 6am and literally ejected from the bus at the edge of town with our bags thrown out after us before the bus sped off.  We were the only two getting off the bus which was heading for Lima and it must have been late! We were still half asleep, rubbing our eyes, trying to get our bearings and within seconds we were mobbed with local touts trying to get us to go to their hotel, take their tour and catch their flights! Our first impressions of Nazca were not good! We had to barge through them (they wouldnīt let us out of the bus station) and grabbed a taxi to our pre-booked hostel. Word of advice for any travelers to Nazca, book a hostel ahead (we recommend the Welcome-Inn Hostel (Via Morburg)).
Nazca is a town in the middle of the desert, so as you would imagine, it`s hot and dusty - typical desert. The towns main tourist attraction is the Nazca Lines which are made up of hundreds of different lines, some making animal or insect figures and other`s making patterns which still have not been decrypted to date. The shapes were only discovered in the 1920s when airline pilots noticed strange pictures when flying overhead and began to investigate. 
The Nazca Lines are an enigma. They have inspired fantastic explanations regarding their function .. from a celestial calendar created by the ancient Nazca civilization, a plea to ancient Gods for rain and the most imaginative being a landing strip for returning aliens.  The Nazca lines canīt be recognized clearly from the ground so there are about 13 agencies in this small town offering flights over the lines for various prices.  We have heard many stories of people getting ripped off... our hostel organised our trip the morning we arrived, $45 each seemed a little steep but it included all taxes and a return taxi... best to stick with the safe option we thought. So off we went to the airport and watched a National Geographic documentary on the lines while we waited. 30 minutes later we crammed into a tiny 5 seater plane and up we went....
We were warned not to eat anything beforehand and so glad we didnīt. The pilot swung the plane from left to right at 90 degree angles.. a little scary at times but good fun. It was hard to make out some of the animals due to the hundreds of lines everywhere.  The pilot let out a shout for the animal images below "LEFT LEFT, MONKEY!!!" and we all turned as quick as possible to try to make out the lines in the sand.  It was hard at first to spot them as we were going so fast! We got to see 10 of the most impressive images, mostly animal images (hummingbird, monkey, dog, condor), although it was only at 30min flight it was worth it.
The rest of the time we spent in the hostel, the town just had a very dodgy feeling about it so we just opted to sit by the pool all day to cool down. Today, before getting our bus to Cusco later on, we checked out the local Pre Inca Cemetery...Chauchilla, where you can see mummies over 2000 years old. Chauchilla Necropolis is thought to have been used by the rich Nazca culture for ceremonial burials. The site is now restored after grave robbers dug up and scattered the remains in search of gold or ceramics. Mummy bodies are preserved due to the dry salty sand and high temperatures of the desert. We were amazed to see open graves exposed and yet the mummies looking so good (as good as you can look when you`ve been dead for 2000 years) with their long dreadlocks and some with perfect textile clothing in tact.  They used to grow their hair to 3 meters long forming huge dreadlocks, not sure why they did this - possibly Bob Marley fans! Just before we left a sand storm blew up, its apparently a normal occurrence every evening, with sand in our hair, ears, all over our clothes we decided it was time to leave.  Tonight we head on a 15 hour night luxury bus to Cusco!...
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