Diary of The Travelling Seanchai :-

Doing Lines in Nazca

I was happy to leave Arequipa and get on the road again, this time to Nazca, a place where I have to be honest I hadn’t heard of but thankfully Hamish and Caroline had.

2008-01-17 to 2008-01-22

We arrived to our hostel a little early, well an entire day early we were told because I had got the booking wrong but Abdon opened the door with sleep in his eyes and a smile on his face! He and Hedwig were two of the nicest hosts you could meet and they allowed us check in early and get some sleep.

South America is synonymous with the drug trade and doing lines of cocaine but there are some other lines which might not be as famous but they certainly deserve to be. For it is here, in the arid, dry desert that different generations of the Nazca Culture for nearly a 1000 years (from about 200BC to 700AD) made huge shapes of birds, plants, animals, `spacemen` and countless lines and squirls which scientists have now discovered are directly in line with the stars and such phenomenon like the winter and summer solstices.

They are remarkable for two reasons. Firstly, none of them are deep, no more than a few centimeters in some places but the unique conditions in this region have kept them intact for 2000 years. The other amazing thing to consider is that they can´t be recognised as actual figures except from the air. Obviously, the ancient people that made them couldn´t have taken in their work from the air so it has caused all sorts of speculation as to their intentions and given rise to a myriad of hypothesis including one famous one that they were made for aliens with the assistance of aliens!

Either way, we took off in our little 4 seater plane ( a surreal experience in it´s own right) and took it all in. It was simply amazing to see how it had all been put together and how the Pan American Highway cuts right through it because no-one at ground level at the time could even see, literally, `the bigger picture!´

The next day, I set off to see some more Mummies. The one I had seen in Arequipa had been frozen for 500 years. These had stayed intact due to the dryness of the desert in which they were found. Grave diggers had plundered the graves many years ago of their treasures and left the `worthless´ skeletons out in the burning sun where they were bleached to an eerie white. They looked like TV props but you had to remember that you were looking at people who were once buried with honour, whose graves had been desecrated and who were now just sitting there, with clothes on, facing east and having their photo taken thousands of times…

One other Mummy in the small museum still had all of it`s skin intact, I honestly thought it could have woken up and stretched itself out!

But it was time to head on to Cuzco, the springboard for Machu Picchu, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. I was to meet Cathy, a soon to be family member who was keen to do the trek. She was also bringing me some baked beans and Sandwich Spread from Ireland so I was triply excited as to her arrival.

Cuzco is a beautiful town, even more so at night. The focal point is the Plaza Des Armas with its magnificent cathedrals, cobbled streets, large park and a collection of good bars and clubs. Hamish and Caroline had joined us again and I met several of my old friends from the Wild Rover so a few big nights were recorded before we were to take on the dreaded Salkanthay trek up to Machu Picchu.

Like most things when you travel, it was to throw up scenarios and scenes that we could never have imagined….

Machu Picchu: Trails and Tribulations

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