Edit Blog Post
Published: November 11th 2010
El Candelabro geoglyph
what does it mean exactly? I think it's giving 'the finger' to passing pirates
What a vast and amazing expanse Peru is. I won't lie, leaving Lima was a huge relief...(see last blog). But I couldn't help but think there must be something more to Peru. I was so right!
The region of Ica is beyond belief and expectation. Getting there, not so much. Staring out the bus window as we scream south along the rocky wasteland, action movies blaring in Spanish on overhead screens, I can't help but notice the endless chicken barns on the white sand beaches that line the Pacific. Anywhere else in the world, this would be considered prime real estate, but here in Peru apparently chickens get the posh views. On the other side of the freeway are tiny little plots of land marked out neatly with rocks, each square has a tiny home of straw mats and cement - all in various stages of build - some appear abandoned.
Patty Cho-la, my new Peruvian friend and explainer of oddities, tells me that Peruvians who work in Lima own these little plots of land and come out to add to them as they can afford it, with hopes to one day live in them. I'm witnessing the evolution
pretty little refreshing oasis in the middle of nowhere
of a Peruvian suburbization. My observations are a much needed distraction from what is going on at the front of the bus. Our driver swerves wildly to overtake the endless tanker trucks on a single lane, honking like a mad man all the while. I try not to scream.
As the crimson red sun drastically plunges into the sea, we arrive in the small town of Pisco. Ground zero for a devastating earthquake back in 2007. The horrific 8.0 magnitude killed many people and the piles of rubble stand as grim reminders. The demolished church and town square are actively utilized and bustling with tuc tucs, although as soon as night creeps in we are plunged into eerie darkness. I am still fascinated by the endless honking for no apparent reason.
On a happier note, while in Pisco, you supposively sit around and drink Pisco sours all night. Done.
An early start has us jostling for position at the Paracas docks as we wait for a boat to take us out to the Islas Ballestas. I'm not exactly sure what to expect - they keep calling these islands the "Galapagos of Peru" - a tall order to
Cementerio de Chauchilla
Creepy burial site that hasn't even begin to uncover all the mummies buried
fill - but I am reasonably optimistic (and slightly hung over...curse you Pisco brandy). The day is sunny and fantastic!! First thing we spot is this really great geoglyph called "El Candelabro" which is carved into the rocky terrain. No one is quite sure why it is there and what it means. I believe it may be a pre-Inca middle finger for any pirates passing by. Are you with me? Anyhoo, the islands are teeming with sea life, the Humboldt sea current directly passes through, bringing an abundance of food and fish followed closely by an entourage of seals, penguins, cormorants, boobies, dolphins, whales, and a zillion other sea birds. The people of this region have developed a lucrative fertilizer industry - they farm the guano from the cliffs. You need smell o' vision to truly appreciate that it can be over two meters deep in some places...OMG whew-wee!
We are supposed to be in Nazca this evening, but first we make a pit stop in the little oasis town called Huacachina. I had seen pictures of this place - on this particular website come to think of it - but (as always) pictures don't do it justice! It
Dune buggy fun
blasting around the oasis all day, fun!
is gorgeous. An emerald gem buried deep in white sand, Huacachina has been obviously created for tourists - but well worth the stop. To fully appreciate the sand dunes that loom over this little lagoon, rent a dune buggy and a driver. Our driver, zoomed us up and down and sideways over the endless swells of sand while we screamed our fool heads off. Once we located the tallest terrifying dune, we zipped down on sand boards at warp speed. Beyond fun! Back in the town, the lake itself is swim able so many locals of Ica enjoy as a refreshing getaway. We had enough time to walk around and find a restaurant for lunch. We end up in the middle of a high school reunion with hundreds of old Peruvian gals whipped into a frenzy by a hired band of spanish tunas wearing black robes. Very amusing dinner theatre. We ate everything asparagus because it is in season and famously good, before we head off back to Ica to tour some of the Bodegas for their free Pisco samples.
Nazca is Peruvian for dry I think. Has it ever rained here? Probably not. We get a preview of
sun down in pisco
OMG look at the blood red sky plunging into the pacific ocean!
the Nazca lines from the side of the highway on a shaky scaffolding platform. The lines are very interesting. A collection of geogylphs that have about 70 animal type figures and 10,000 lines/trapezoids were first noticed from the air around 1927. Now declared a UNESCO World Heritage site there is still great debate on what all of these really mean. Some believe they are a giant astronomical calendar, some think its to communicate with their Gods, some think a ceremonial centre for worshipping or sacrificing, but I prefer the last - some believe it is for aliens - complete with waving space-man and directional indicators of nearby landing strips. This German lady Maria Reiche, dedicated her life to trying to figure it out - her vote is a combination of theories 1 and 2.
Before we see the lines from the air, we visit the Cementerio de Chauchilla that dates back to the Chincha period 1000-1400AD. Sadly, the whole site has been pillaged by grave robbers whom dug up each burial chamber to steal anything of value. Sand eventually blew back and filled up the holes, but you can actually see where each site is...and there are thousands of
not quite the Galapagos but still worth the trip out to see
them. So now that the Peruvian government has realized the importance of this area (as well as tourism potential), they are digging and preserving. Still many fascinating relics and artefacts. You get the true sense of how gigantic the project really is when you stand out in this dry lake bed. The entrance fee and tips help to preserve the mummies that are displayed, there are mummified parrots and small children.
Some new-age hippy chick next to me on the bus casually commented that today's date was October 10, 2010 (or 10/10/10). Although I am not superstitious, she is, and of course a huge debate erupts as the buzz spreads like wildfire about the Nazca flight last weekend that crashed. My companions for the flight are freaky nervous by the time we board. I'm not. I feel safer in a small Peruvian plane than I do in a Peruvian taxi. We take off and go into a series of steep banks so that pictures can be taken from either side of the plane. I look back and everyone I'm with is an ugly shade of green. I am the only one taking pictures and enjoying the flight. No one
Best thing to do while in Ica, tour the many watering holes to taste their Pisco
Back in Nazca we are all famished so we head for the nearest Chifa restaurant and chow down on gigantic plates of Chinese fried rice and noodles, washing it down with nuclear-yellow Inka Cola. The restaurant is packed and chaotic and an old crazy lady begging for money tries to place a curse on us, I tell her she is too late, we survived the flight, so naner-naner ding dong. She shuffles off with our leftovers, baffled. Nazca reminds me of an old style Mexico where everything is sold from a cart, and people are hustling just to etch out a living, but simply living in the moment, a concept that still eludes me in my Canadian life. The plaza square with water fountains and statues is bustling with activity into the cool evening. We are waiting around to take an overnight bus to Arequipa.
Did I say bus? I meant double-decker pleasure dome of luxury!! I board with excitement and settle into my recliner seat on the second level with anticipated glee.
Tot: 3.248s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 43; qc: 155; dbt: 0.1175s; 3; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.9mb