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sunny 28 °C

Sunday, April 13.

We stayed last night at the Ibis Hotel, as we had a breakfast meeting here at 7 a.m. We walked downstairs to the cafe, and met the first of our crew: Manuel and Andre. Operations manager and CEO of Esperanza Mines. Later we met others who are also involved: Ana Cecilia, from Lima and Andy, from Costa Rica. Bob finished up the crew, travelling from in the U.S. More to meet up with us tomorrow. We ate breakfast and learned a few things about the trip we would be making over 700 km south, along the Pan-American Highway, to visit a gold mine and to see how it operates.

Our bus was comfortable and air conditioned. ........notice the little "taxi" beside it?
This taxi is a common site in Peru. Each driver decks out his taxi in a very original style.

A comfortable 24 seater bus awaited us, so we piled on our luggage and set off on our day's drive to the town of Nazca. We sat stodgily for a while, but soon the ice melted and we chatted and learned each other's stories. We were going to be together for the next three days, and every one was all set for a relaxing ride, and why not get to know our companions?

Along the way we we stopped for a break at a roadside stop where bread is baked in traditional mud ovens with burning embers. We spent some time watching the process. This is a busy stop with many customers who break their journey to line up to buy this piping hot crusty bread.
Ten ovens with coals glowing in the side of each one.
The bread rolls are popped onto a wooden paddle with speed and expertise...

...and slipped off onto the floor of the oven

Having stretched our legs, we continued on again and watched the scenery. The terrain is extremely interesting. Leaving the city we travelled through a wild array of landscapes. The height of buildings decreased, then the density.

Several miles of this was followed by flat sandy land, and lush areas where I could see rows of corn ready for harvest, and later large vineyards with grapes growing on raised trellises.

Plenty of corn fields whizzed past us.
You can't see grapes here, but the vines are growing along the trellises - leaves in the sunshine and grapes hanging below the canopy of vines.

We continued on, trying to identify the crops we saw growing in the fields, until finally, the land became flatter and rather barren. At one point, we saw hundreds of dung brown and pastel coloured cubes, which represent squatter camps next to a large gas plant. Later, the landscape changed to desert scenery with dunes that you would imagine in the Sahara.

This squatter camp went back as far as the eye could see, and followed the road for some kilometres.

Lots of dry sparse land.
Lots of desert.

We stopped in a town called Huacachina, near Ica. The sand dunes there were massive, and I was not surprised to find Sand-buggies for hire to ride the dunes! We found a little oasis in the centre of Huacachina, and sat at a lovely restaurant that boasts age and elegance. We were seated there overlooking an oasis and nibbling on local fare.

The oasis in the middle of the desert - central Huacachina.

A cool place to stretch our legs and to look at the action on the pond behind us.
Enjoying lunch and the good company in Huacachina.

A bit later we piled back in the bus and planned to brave the next 5 hours of good roads, bad drivers and great company. We rolled on for a few hours, and our next leg of the journey brought us right by the ocean. Soon after this, we turned to the east and headed inland. This is when the terrain changed to a moonscape! This area is considered to be desert.
It was growing dark as we came across a tower where we could have a better look at the Nazca lines on the ground.

We approached Nazca, and right through the Nazca Lines - you know the ones: drawings on the earth of some 70 animal and plant figures that include a spider, hummingbird, monkey and a 1,000-foot-long pelican. These cannot be appreciated from the ground, but flying over them reveals these pictures, which have been studied and speculated to be lines made by people of other worlds, or at least to be of symbolic and magical significance. We arrived at the site of some of these mysterious lines and climbed up a rickety tower to look, and were impressed with the drawings.
Shadows were getting long, but we were able to see some of the lines that made up these unusual line drawings.
This drawing is of the tree, consisting of a central trunk with radiating branches and a series of roots.
Illustrations of the very large drawings made in the sand in the Nazca desert.
The Nazca images make attractive designs and souvenirs.

If you fly into Nazca, you will be able to see several other line drawings, such as humming bird, condor and spider. Some of the images are as much as 200 metres across. The Nazca Lines were scratched on the surface of the ground between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500. The geoglyphs depict living creatures, stylized plants and imaginary beings, as well as geometric figures several kilometers long. They are believed to have had ritual astronomical functions.

As it grew dark, we climbed back on the bus and went towards the town of Nazca, where we stopped for supper. A lot of k's covered today, and a few hours after dark, we were in our hotel in Nazca. Here we met a couple from Quebec who were travelling for a year with their 8 year old son - Jinny, Martin and Vincent. Tomorrow we will continue our travels with them. We checked in and headed off for bed, as we will start on the last leg of our journey, beginning at 7 tomorrow morning.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 20:51 Archived in Peru

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