Sunday, 8 June 2014

Nazca Lines and Ica

If you're twenty and travelling around the country with your backpack, the overnight bus, including a meal is a great option, especially because it saves the price of a hotel. However, if you're in your sixties, and feel absolutely miserable running on only a few hours sleep, not so much. We were by far the oldest people travelling this way, and now I understand why!

Arriving at the bus station was mad chaos when our driver dropped us off and pointed us in the direction of what looked like the right check in counter. There was no sense of a line, and people were approaching the check in only to be turned away. I used a trick that Bryce and I figured out when navigating the train and subway system in China; approach someone who looks like they know what they are doing and ask them to help. Thus we met Ingrid from Holland and Pierre from France. They were a young couple in their twenties who are Peruvian bus pros, and they helped guide us through the check in process, then shared stories of their months long adventures in Peru while we waited for our bus.

The bus was lovely, a double decker, with fully reclining seats, blanket and pillow. We left Arequipa at 9:30 pm and I fell asleep as soon as I closed my eyes. However, a few hours later, I needed to use the bathroom, but the door to our compartment was closed tight. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not open it, so I went back to my seat and prayed for someone else to feel the urge soon. I must have dozed off, because I was sure that I heard Marianne crawl across me and go out to the bathroom. When she came back, I was standing at the door, ready to pounce. "I was locked in!" I whispered in distress to my good buddy, only it wasn't Marianne at all, just some very confused looking woman who was half asleep looking at me like I was crazy. She just blinked her eyes and continued to her seat. As I stepped through the open doorway and the door closed tight behind me, it occurred to me that I better try the door to see if I could get back in! Oh no, that darned door was closed tight! I knocked lightly on the door, hoping that the woman I had just accosted would come to my rescue, but no luck! Hmmm, I was standing in a little hallway in the middle of the night, locked out of the main carriage, I might as well use the bathroom.

Once in the bathroom, I needed to figure out how to get out. I said a little prayer for help, as I definitely did NOT want to spend the rest of the night in there! It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps after unlocking the door and turning the doorknob, maybe I just had to push real hard. I gave the door a hard shoulder shove, and sure enough, it popped open! I did the same thing to get into our sleeping compartment, and presto, I was in! I'm sure that the woman that I accosted is still wondering who the midnight wanderer she met on the bus was all about, though!

We finally arrived in Nazca at 7:15 am, excited to see the lines, but feeling like a couple of old dishrags.

We were met by Louise, who took us straight to the tour office to get organized to fly over the Nazca lines. We headed off to the airport, but had to wait for a couple hours for the low cloud to lift.
Thankfully, the cloud did finally lift, making way for a perfectly clear blue sky.

There were lots of other great designs that we saw in the desert, but they were too far away to capture with my ipad. Here's a picture of one of the designs that I copied out of my Lonely Planet guidebook. This design is almost one kilometer long!
The Nazca lines took over 800 years to create, using rudimentary surveying principles, and incredible hours of labour to move rocks out of the path of the lines, and then to etch these lines into the desert in such a way that they are still standing! Even more amazing, the etchings cover 400 square miles. Unbelievable!
We hopped back on another bus for a two hour bus ride to Ica to play in the sand dunes. Before our dune buggy ride, we had some time to explore the town. It has such a fun beachy kind of vibe, with a little lake in the middle, and the entire town encircled by dunes that go for miles.
The dune buggy ride was so much fun, it might even be my favourite part of the whole trip!
But wait, there was more to this than just a dune buggy ride. Our driver stopped at the crest of a huge hill and asked us if we wanted to go down on a sand board. "Gulp, sure", I said. I laid down on my stomache on the board with my heart pounding in my chest, and started screaming even before he pushed me over the edge. "This is just like the tobogganing I did as a kid," said Marianne, but she screamed all the way down, too. Those hills in Alberta were nothing compared to these!











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