Wednesday, May 6, 2009


We caught the night bus from Cuzco, and it was duro. After getting the preliminary climb out of Cuzco and a more-or-less flat hour of Altiplano out of the way, the rollercoaster ride began. For the next 7 or 8 hours, if I wasn't getting slammed into Erin, she was getting slammed into me. I looked at the altimeter and it various times it read 3000 meters, 2000 meters, 4300 meters, before, thanks God, we finally descended into Nazca. So for future reference to you out there Cyberland, you might consider flying to Lima or Nazca, since it's only $40 or $50 more.

Nazca wouldn't be anything more than a sun-scorched spot on the Panamerican, were it not for its famous geoglyphs. At least, that was the only reason that we stopped. The next morning we got on a little Cesna and took off over drab desert interspersed with the occasional irrigated rectangle. After a couple of minutes, the pilot banked the plane steeply, and a few hundred meters beneath me I could make out what was clearly the outline of a whale.

From Nazca

Pointing towards water?

The flight only lasted 30 minutes, but we saw 13 or 14 figures. Pretty much every anthropologist thinks they were made without aerial help, so it would be been fascinating to survey them from the ground, as the Nazqueños did when they were constructed. However, much of the desert is supposedly mined, so that seemed like a bad idea.

No one knows what they are for, but a plausible theory to me would be that they were for ceremonial purposes. Almost all the figures we saw were homeomorphic to the circle, so could be traversed completely without skipping between segments. I imagine a parade of Nazqueños marching around the figures, much like a prayer labyrinth.




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