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Published: December 27th 2011
Next stop on the map was Nazca in the middle of the Peruvian Desert. We were here ultimately to see the famous Nazca lines, but there were a few other things to potentially do here, and therefore we felt it was a worthy stop.
We arrived in Nazca via the Cruz Del Sur bus which has to be by far the best bus we have travelled on yet. The seats were huge and comfy, and the DVD’s that were played had to be listened to by headphones, meaning we didn’t have to listen to poor action movies dubbed in Spanish at ridiculously high volumes! Once in the bus station of Nazca, we made the mistake of pulling out our Lonely Planet in full view of the locals which basically says to everyone ‘We have no reservations for a hostel, and we haven’t decided where to go yet’ Because of this, we were naturally pounced on by a couple of Hostel owners and eventually worn down by one lady who had a fairly solid sales pitch. It was sold to us as ‘I will give you a lift to the hostel, if you don’t like it, you will be in the
centre, and can always look for another Hostel’ this was hard to resist.
Once at the Hostel, we had a quick look around, and decided the place was ideal. Trusting people does sometimes pay off! It turned out that this Hostel also had a deal running with a local tour firm, and therefore meant we could book all of our tours via them too, which again kept our hassle levels to a minimum and gave us more time to relax on the day of our arrival.
The next day, we had booked ourselves in for two tours, one to see the Chauchilla cemetery in the middle of nowhere, and the other to see ‘some’ of the Nazca lines. After a 45 minute or so drive with Juan, our local tour guide, we arrived at the cemetery. Donna and I have always had a slightly morbid fascination with stuff like this, and always find it really interesting learning about how people used to be buried and where etc. (we do love a cemetery!) This however, was no ordinary cemetery. Here, in the middle of the desert, sat twelve OPEN graves! In each of these graves were several mummies that
have been here over 1000 years. It was one of the most surreal things we have ever seen, with all these dead people so close! The mummies that were there had their legs and arms broken and were then wrapped in clothing (most of which was looted by grave robbers many years ago) so that they were in the foetal position, and were then made to face east in order to be born again. They also still had all of their hair, and in some cases, this was over 2 metres long, which was longer than these people were tall!! All of this surrounded by desert mountains, mini sand cyclones, and an eerie silence, made this quite an awesome, yet melancholy experience.
After returning to the Hostel for a while, we were then picked up by a couple of young guys in their car for our next tour, this time for the Nazca lines. This wasn’t the most obvious mode of transport, being a lowered little car, with blacked out windows and a huge exhaust pipe, but we trusted the hostel who knew these guys well, and decided to make the adventure none the less. The reason we were
getting in a car to see the Nazca lines and not a plane in order to see them was a decision that was twofold. The first being that the current safety records of these planes stated that 69% didn’t pass standard safety checks this year…a scary statistic I’m sure you will agree. The second reason was the cost. It was going to cost us $90 each in the ‘budget’ planes, or up to $150 each in the ‘better’ planes. Since we didn’t really want to spend $90 anyway, this made the decision easy. Add it to the fact that if we did decide to go via plane, it would have had to be the budget and potentially lethal plane for $90, it made the choice a no brainer. Instead, we would drive to two look-out points with a couple of random guys in a car that wouldn’t look out of place down Southend-On-Sea promenade on a Saturday night….much safer!.... Actually, it really was OK, and the guys were good as gold.
On the way to the look-out points to see the Nazca lines, we had another insight into the corruption of the police in South America, when we were
pulled over by a cop. He started looking round the car, trying to find something wrong in order to get the driver to pay a bribe. Although not finding anything, he told the driver that on his way back (he knew we would be returning to Nazca to drop us off) that he wanted paying anyway… there’s justice for you!
So after this little incident, we finally got to the first viewpoint, and saw our first glimpse of the mysterious lines. They were pretty amazing, especially considering they had been there for hundreds of years without disappearing! We were told that the mini sand cyclones that occur in the desert are the reason for this, as they naturally clean the lines so they are still visible today. After actually seeing the lines, we noticed that they were a lot smaller than we imagined, but were still great to see purely for the uncertainty surrounding them. Even today, nobody really knows why they are there……
Our next stop was to see two of the more famous lines being ‘The Frog’ (or hands) and ‘The Tree’. Again, fascinating to see them, and to ponder why they are there whilst surrounded
by one of the most dramatic backdrops of our travels so far. I think overall, the better way to see these lines would definitely be in the air, however due to our safety concerns; this was an adequate way to see them. Overall, I don’t think we missed out too much though, as Donna and I are notoriously bad in small planes anyway, and probably would have spent the entire time feeling sick and worried that the plane was about to crash…
On the way back to the Hostel, we came across the corrupt police officer once more. Luckily for our driver, he was currently in the middle of extorting someone else on the other side of the road, and so we very slowly crept past the cop, and before he noticed who we were the driver put his foot down sending dust everywhere, and we were gone into the horizon giggling like four naughty school kids!
Our last day was to be spent Sand-boarding up on the sand dunes of Nazca, and something we were both looking forward to. Unfortunately though, the dune buggy that was due to take us there had broken down, and therefore we
were unable to go. This sucked, but we consoled ourselves with the fact that there would be more opportunities on the way.
That evening, we were booked up to catch another Cruz Del Sur bus (this time an overnight bus) to Cusco, which meant that Machu Piccu was only days away……wonder of the world number two here we come!
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