I groggily gather my senses and remember that I chose the Cruz Del Sur overnight bus ride from Cusco down the mountain to the desert city of Nazca. And the twisting, turning hairpin turns are throwing the passengers back and forth in their seats.
I peek out the closed curtains. In the dawn daylight, the desert is lighting up. I see nothing but red rock. A few turns later, there is a giant cactus. Where ever we are, it’s desolate. There is no underbrush, bushes or even grasses, just rubble and a large cactus every mile or so. It’s so stark that it looks cartoonish. This looks how I imagined the surface of a planet from outer space. (minus the cacti).
Nascacleared too many trees needed to prevent soil erosion. AN ECO-TASTROPHY! OMG OMG OMG
As was then, Nazca is a desert region bordered on the northeast by the Andes mountains and the southwest by the Pacific Ocean. The desert has dehydrated Nazca artifacts and remains (mummies) for eternety, and therefore we know a fair amout about them including they used hallucinogens from cacti, made (still used) sophisticated water aqueducts, and were big fans of severing peoples heads, both friend and foe.
The Nazca lines
With the windows rolled down, the hot desert air warms us in the old van of the young taxi-lady, Naina, who takes us to the airport from the bus terminal. It’s about 7:30 am and it’s already hot.
As we approach the airport, Naina, who speaks pretty good English, asks if we have reservation for the flights. We don’t, and she goes on about how petrol has been hard to get and prices rose when several outfits were put out of business after thirteen people died in two seperate accidents last year. (The Peruvian government, in response to the international coverage of the incident has increased regulations and reduced the volume of flights.)
I have a mild headache. I’ve been up for 4 hours already and haven’t had any caffiene. The bright sunlight keeps me up, as I walk back to the car to confer with Trish. Even the dehydrated nescafe crap served at most breakfasts would taste good right now.
Naina comes running out and says she found a better deal – a private plane that leaves right away for $25 more per person. Well take it! The only problem is I don’t have enough cash and they don’t take cards. No matter, Naina says, we’ll get to an ATM afterward and sort it out.
Geoglyphs and Bioglyphs
But there are also vehicle tracks and water gullies from the rare times that it rains. And the lines aren’t that easy to make out in the bright sun. (I had to up the contrast on these pictures to show the lines.) But you can definitely see them – it’s not a hoax.
Emma is breathless, filming enthusiastically and narrating for her friends at home. Lily shows no sign of fear, and shouldn’t, it’s a smooth flight all the way to landing. As we descend, we get a great view of Cerro Blanco, the worlds tallest sand dune in the distance. We’ll do that another trip. (Next page)