Imagine my disappointment. I fly all the way to Peru, take a three and a half hour bus ride to see the Nazca lines and all we get are these stupid 2,000 year old drawings in the ground. I was expecting a museum dedicated to Dale Earnhardt, Kyle and Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Jeff Gordon et al. Yet another let down on what has essentially been a horrible trip. For instance, take a gander at this dump we’ve been forced to spend the last 3 days and two nights. I miss our guest house in Peru. OK, wait a sec; the meds are kicking in.
As we sit in the lap of luxury in Hotel Paracas,
this magnificent hotel, waiting for our transportation to Lima airport, we reflect on what has been as good a holiday/adventure/great time together as two people could possibly have. Lets begin with the facilities here. Paracas is a town situated 200 km south of Lima on the Pacific Ocean. The resort has been completely resurrected courtesy of the 2007 earthquake that damaged the hotel beyond repair. We don’t know whee to start the list of excellence. We can go chronologically. We were met my Margarita, one of the super competent and friendly staff who checked us in. When advised that wifi was going to be $10 per day per device, I calculated $120 in service fees. Explaining that I was writing a travel blog, requiring a fair amount of on line time, she gently smiled and set us up with a complementary access code. It only got better from there. Our room was a second story villa overlooking the bay. A Cusco Sour and a light lunch later, we were in the mood.
The setting here is nothing short of idyllic; infinity pool, chez lounges, cane and bamboo furniture and finishings and impeccable cleanliness (not easy with the zillions of birds flying around) great food, lovely silverware, accommodating gift shop (which was required since like a moron I left my bathing suit, whale shorts, cap and assorted T shirts in a drawer in the Lima hotel). To resolve that particular bit of idiocy, the concierge arranged to have a tour bus stop by the hotel to pick up my stuff there. Total time from request to receipt – 24 hours. I’m telling you, these guys are great. Paracas is on the verge of a tourist boom. There are several brand spanking new hotels rising out of the sand. Hotel Paracas is well situated to become the lead facility for the area. In addition to the hotel, the rich and famous of Peru, Columbia, and surrounding nations are flocking to the area, building country estates up and down the coast. If you ever want to experience total luxury in an amazing environment with historical and cultural richesse. Get here now. Tell Margarita that Bruce sent you.
Day one consisted of an aerial tour of the Nazca lines. We’ve all seen them on nature shows, culture shown and UFO shows. The origins of these massive representations of animal and human forms defy any type of explanation that makes sense. Our guide explained that these 20 century old ten centimetre deep indentations in the grounds surface have withstood earthquake, dust storm and erosion to be as visible today as they were when Christ was still enrolled in the Boy Scouts, were meant to curry favour with the gods (Vishnu in particular was fond of curry) in order to obtain water from the skies. All of the animals portrayed in these incredible interpretations required water (whale, condor, hummingbird,
monkey, etc.). What I cannot fathom is where in the heck these prehistoric artisans would have seen a monkey in order to represent it graphically since desert is not the type of habitat that we’ve ever seen any type of primates in. Based on our recent experience in the Amazon Jungle and other rainforests previously visited, they tend to congregate in that type of environment. Were the drawings of scorpions and snakes, they might of had me. There is also a petrograph (cool term for rock drawing) of what the locals refer to as The Astronaut.
I don’t know if the figure featuring a domed/helmeted individual posed in a universally recognized ‘We Come in Peace’ raised right arm gesture is what EichVan Danikken hypothesized as a strange visitor from a distant planet, but his alien interpretation is no less palpable than what has been posited stating that the whale in the desert symbolizes a need for water telegraphed to the local gods.
The plane held 12. Lori and I plus two Colombian families from Medellin. Flying on a small plane leaving from a desolate airstrip in the middle of the desert surrounded by two families harking from the most notorious cocaine cartel city in the world caused me a certain degree of pause as to what additional ballast might be located in the storage compartments in the plane’s underbelly. It turns out that what should have been stored below should have been additional barf bags and instead of cocaine, a more appropriate drug would have been Gravol. The flight pilot and co-pilot take us to about 4,000 feet over the mountains
and in order to allow the passengers close up views of the whale, spider, monkey, dog, hummingbird, etc., engage in rapid descents, ninety degree sideways swoops, and their training must have been in the evasive action manoeuvres in the Peruvian air force. Lori
and I were fine. We both actually enjoyed the barrel rolls, loop-de-loops and other acrobatics hitherto not previously seen since watching WWII movies and old barnstorming films. Unfortunately, our co-passengers did not share our enthusiasm. Rather the retching sounds followed by requests for more plastic bags indicated that a less than wonderful time was had by most. Those who weren’t puking up their guts were various shades of white green or grey. The co-pilot spent most of his time moistening cotton swabs with alcohol and passing them back to the Colombians. They were being sniffed on in a fashion that seemed very much in keeping with what those from Medellin probably do a lot. We weren’t sure if the soaked cotton was being used like ammonia to clear the head or just to mask the wreak of the vomit. Anyways, Lori and I had a great time.
Yesterday, we had a guided tour of the desert. As I have stated in earlier blogs, I believe tat each person has a naturals affinity to a certain geographical setting, be it mountains, seaside, jungle, whatever. I am most at home in the desert. Those closest to me infer that there is a certain reptilian essence to my nature. A charge that I have difficulty refuting since nothing appeals to me more that warming myself on a rock. That said, we visited a 600,000 plus hectare reserve that appeared devoid of life forms. What was most unusual about this desert was that it abutted an ocean.
The area is rife with movements as two tectonic plates fight for position. The cracks in the earth abound. They are deep, they are wise and they are constantly moving. One of the best known geographic formations is called La Catedral (loosely translated as The Synagogue).
It is in now an island. Four years ago it was attached by a land bridge to the mainland. One can easily see the fault lines
and understand where the next land/sea division will occur. The only question is when, not if. The sands are multi-hued based on the chemical composite
– iron oxide is red, sulphur, yellow, salt white. There are huge tracts of salt flats which are harvested and exported. Since this desert was, like many other deserts a former flood plain and ocean floor, sub-aquatic fossils millions of years old abound.
Fascinating as Spock (who resembles the Spaceman petrograph) might say. The afternoon was spent lounging at the pool, catching some rays. Dinner delightful and delicious.
Today’s final excursion was a seaside pass-by of the Ballestas Islands and a viewing of La Candelabra, another prehistoric mountain carving of what is either a 600 foot high sconce or cactus that was carved into the side of a mountain. It points due south – directly toward the Nazca lines situated some 100 kilometres away. No end to te mystery. Speaking of which, the mystery, we have all heard of third generation family business inheritors who have been deemed alchemists for their ability to turn gold into shit. It this case, Lori and I have witnessed the corollary up close and personal. Balestas Island is the home to half a dozen bird species including penguins, condors, pelicans and boobies. There are also herds of sea lions. There are hundreds of thousands of these creatures inhabiting every crag, surface, nook and especially crannies of these islands. They eat, mate and poop. Their poo is known as guano and is harvested every seven years. It is bagged and sold as the second best fertilizer in the world. (You had to ask?- bat guano is #1). It sells at 50-60 Euros per 50 kg bag.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this stuff half as much as we enjoyed producing it. We are open to suggestions as to where next year’s trip will hopefully take us. All suggestions are welcome and should be in written form accompanied by a sample of a large currency bank note from the country of your choice. So now you know all you need to know about Peru, its multiple climates, its wonderful people, the culture of Machu Picchu, life in the jungle, the Incas, the mysterious space drawings and most importantly, the excrement.