Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Nazca Lines

Take the early hour flight everyone says so we listened to them and booked the 7 AM tour for the flight over the Nazca Lines, and sure enough an old, dilapidated van was in front of the hotel when we got there at 6.50 AM. The guy had the hood open, checking the engine on the van. He would not let us into the car until 7 AM but as a bonus, we received an involuntary city tour, because he drove thru the city from one hotel or hostel to the next picking up other passengers. Slowly the bus began to fill up. We had to wait at each stop for a group or an individual. Of course, some were late or someone had to call their room or they were not well informed about their pick up time, etc. We waited. Finally we arrived at the airport, were shown the ticket counter, and I gave the woman my flight ticket, purchased the day before right next to the hotel. The airport is only 3 minutes away from our hotel but the time now is 7.40 AM. No wonder they recommend the early flight, it takes them 50 minutes to make a 3 minute trip.
“All is well, thank you”, she said, “Would you mind waiting until our flight is ready? We will call you”. We received a sticker with the company logo to be glued to our breast pockets. Nice sticker, very well done but none of the stickers stuck to anything but paper. They came off no matter what fabric you wore; Carol finally glued hers on the paper brochure we received. I lost mine in no time.
At about 8 AM, after being body scanned with an electronic wand, having camera bags checked etc, like we were at JFK and going unto an international flight, we get on the 6- seat plane. One propeller motor in the center, the wings supported with heavy struts. Not a new plane, but not as old as I imagined. A 3-point harness is a serious hold down and we strapped in. The plane is small inside and to get in one has to step onto footholds, use specific handholds and sit according to best weight distribution, the pilot determines. Our pilot wore a uniform and looked very professional, cap and all, mostly white with navy and gold colored trims. An intercom system, the one you put over your ears, like old fashioned ear phones, did not work well on our plane. It looked old fashioned, probably installed when the plane was built in the 60’s. I used my head set to cover the engine noise. After a short preflight check, off we go to see the lines, the time is 8.10 AM. From pick up to take off was I hour and 20 minutes, from a hotel that is exactly 3 minutes away from the airport.
There are many Nazca lines, so many that it is hard to see what is important, what is not. From the air you can see the large, dry river beds and those interfere with the lines. All of a sudden the pilot points and our necks strain to see one of the famous figures, the whale, we try to get a shot with our cameras, the plane banks at a steep angle and before you know it, we flew over it and are gone. One more fly-over from the opposite direction, banking hard to get a good look and then we fly off to the next stop. This view gives us an assortment of trapezoid, or arrow heads, which nobody can decipher. Most of the figures are faint, in a maze of lines, hard to see. This process repeats itself, the pilot can only point, and he cannot say much because the engine noise is loud. I loved the Astronaut, our next stop. I got a fairly good picture of this guy. A weird looking dude, carved on a very dark hill side so he shows up well. The monkey, dog, condor, spider, frigate bird and hummingbird are next and clustered. I found them hard to see and they are faint and crowded among lines that make it even worse to clearly make them out. I took blind pictures, hoping for the best. I never saw the representation of the tree; I saw the hands only faintly and got a partial picture of the parrot. All in all, the pilot tried hard to get us a good view but it was hard to get good pictures through the double paned windows. He flew the plane well and banked left, right, left again, he did bank steeply almost to a roll, and he did all he could to get us ill, too. He flew as low as he was allowed and gave us a feeling of being a bird. Our stomachs were ok but a fellow passenger turned a bit pale and then some sort of green, yet he kept his stomach contents inside. He was perspiring heavily when we got off the plane about 30 minutes later and he was glad to be on terra firma again.
This is how we saw the mystery of Nazca, the world renowned Nazca Lines. Why did the ancient people make those figures in the mostly dry soil? What do all these lines mean, what are all those figures about? Was Eric von Daniken right in his theory of space aliens? Here, in Peru, we were told by locals that they were deities; that each motif represents a tribal god. A German scientist, Maria Reiche, spent over 50 years of her life, until her death a few years ago, using scientific instruments, satellite photos, the latest technical equipment and help from her friends all over the world, trying to solve the mystery. She leaned Quechan, the old Inca language, she leaned other dialects of the area to she could speak with the native and ancient population. She tried, and tried but she died not finding the answer. Why? Why did the ancients make those lines? What do they mean?
Well I have seen the lines. I have not a clue as to why the ancients made those lines and motifs or what they mean, either! We took some photos, the best we could, crisscrossed the area in a small plane, travelled a huge distance from our home to see these lines, endured some hardships and had our patience tested many times over, only to walk away saying: “ been there, done that “. Was it all worth it? If the Nazca lines are on your bucket list, cross them off your list! You can see more on a post card! You will not solve the mystery either, I am sure of that. But then, once you are in Peru you might as well stop and see them, too, we did. In a way I am glad, I got them out of my system.

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