Doing a few lines

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
Trip End Jan 20, 2008

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Flag of Peru  ,
Sunday, September 30, 2007

Some memories stay with for longer than others. Stood at 4800m above sea level, with a cheek full of coca leaves, like some sort of oversized, bipedal hamster, whilst being told I was looking at the highest public toilet in the world. I remember that like it was only the other day. Indeed, it was only the other day. A trip to the Colca Canyon. Possibly the second deepest canyon in the world. And very pleasant it was, too. Spent the night in the town of Chivay, after walking several hours through the hills, past some pre-Inca tombs, then onto some thermal baths. Very nice thermal baths. The next morning, a bus to the Canyon itself. There were condors. Amazing birds. Second largest flighted birds in the world. After the albatross (see the Galapagos section for more information on them...) I suspect emus and ostritches are bigger, too. But they very rarely fly - at least not without the help of aeroplanes.
Then, whilst ill, onto Nasca (as they seem to spell it around here...). A place which conjures up all sorts of images. The Nazca plate - a tectonic plate just next to the South American one - the Galapagos were formed by volcanic activity on the edges of these two. The Nazca boobie - a sea bird, resident of the Galapagos. Related to the masked boobie, but sufficiently distinct to warrant its own species. Nazca racing - some sort of US motor sport, the exact details of which are unknown to me. And of course, the Nazca Lines. Geometric designs and animal shapes. Spawned several pointless books by Eric von Daniken, all about aliens. Not taken too seriously these days, apart from by a few of his modern acolytes - Graham Hancock, Robert Duvall - no, hang on, not him, he's an actor, some bearded bloke in Stockport...
In any event, I took a flight. Over the lines. I'm not sure how the photos turned out - possibly too much desert, not enough line. But we'll see. As I had been told, the geometric ones were more impressive than the animal ones - and the lines, that stretched off in straight directions, towards the mountains. According to modern hypotheses, with slightly more evidence than von Daniken, they were meant to be channels, through which the gods could send water in times of drought. Hence them all pointing to/going up mountains, the source of most water in the area. Being gods, they very rarely did this. Divine intervention not being common. The flight was entertaining, as well. Very small plane, that I was not sure would fly. It did. Three of us, and the pilot. We had arrived at the airport for 8am, and watched a video of the lines, only to be told that it was too misty to fly, and we'd have to wait. So we did. About two and a half hours. Still, I had nothing better to do.
The afternoon, I spent being taxied around various sites of interest, locally. The cemetary, at Chauchilla. Interesting, for a while. My driver/guide, not speaking English, explained to me that the larger, adobe tombs were of nobles, whereas poorer people simply had holes in the ground. Some tombs were of families, up to six or seven people. Grave robbers have stolen everything of value, but many mummified bodies remain. Then I wandered around. Interesting, at first. But there is only so much pre-Inca mummification you can take (oh look - another tomb, with mummies in foetal positions), and in the end the environment begins to take more of your attention. Arid desert, stretching for miles. A dry riverbed (it only fills with water from January to March) is surrounded by the only greenery visible. Trees and plants that need little water. An apt location for death.
Then a trip to the aquaducts at Cantallo. Impressive 2000 year old tunnels, bringing water down from the mountains even when the rivers dried. Built from stones piled on top of each other, but capable of withstanding earthquakes, they are an engineering feat. Small sections are exposed, and there are regular "windows" which allow ventilation. But, once again, after four or five of these windows, you've peered down enough holes exposing water, and start paying more attention to the mountains and birdlife surrounding. It definitely seems less dead than the cemetary.
Onto Lima next. Hey ho. I will post some photos, attached to this entry, when I can find somewhere that allows me to download my photos from my camera...and which I've now done. I still need a haircut, though.
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