First, a note, the date on the last post was wrong (should have been 3 Jan,) I think there was some problem with the date on the computer that we were using. In any event, the next day we caught a bus from Lima to Pisco. It took a bit of walking to find the right bus station that had a stop in Pisco, but we found it and left Lima around 1300 putting us in Pisco around 1700. We saw these clowns in the street in Lima on the way out of town – trying to get people to drive safely and not hit pedestrians.
Pisco was hit pretty hard by the earthquake in August. The cathedral collapsed killing 148 people, and another 250 or so died elsewhere in the city. We found a decent hotel. There are a lot of people in Pisco `helping` tourists to find hotels and tours of Islas Ballestas. So, we found a hotel and a tour for the next morning. In Pisco we first saw the little three-wheeled taxis which came in all colors:
We took one of these back to the hotel after dinner since petty theft is a problem in Pisco after dark.
Islas Ballestas were pretty cool. They are islands that are protected for the guano which is used for fertilizer. They only harvest it every 7 years. There are two guys that live on the island full time for two years, but no one else is permitted on the island. Our tour included a boat ride out there and information in English – our guide was pretty good he even translated the species names into German, Dutch, and French for the folks that spoke those languages. Lots and lots of birds and also sea lions. For those interested the birds we saw were: black cormorants, white-chested cormorants, red-legged cormorants, Humbolt penguins, turkey vultures, Inca terns, Peruvian gulls, Peruvian boobies, and Peruvian pelicans.
We left Pisco that afternoon and took the bus to Ica. From Ica we hopped in a taxi to Huachachina which is an oasis. The oasis had a small, dirty lagoon surrounded by a tiled walkway with restaurants and hotels around it. We took a dune buggy tour that afternoon in the dunes which also provided sandboarding. The dune buggy ride was awesome… like a roller coaster with no tracks. Sandboarding was okay, but snowboarding is a lot more fun. The boards werent very good and you dont have as much control so I did on two of the hills and rode laying down on the others. Dan stuck with the sandboarding and only rode laying down twice. It was a lot faster sledding down than sandboarding. We had a bit of engine trouble on the way back, since we were in the front seat Dan and I both helped (Neal turned the key to get it started again and Dan held some of the pieces while our guide was working.)
The next morning we took a hike up the biggest dune which was on the other side of the lagoon than where the dune buggy took us. It was a long hike, but we made it and then ran down to the bottom. We were again covered in sand just like the day before.
We got some breakfast then headed back to Ica to get a bus to Nazca.
So, we got to Nazca yesterday afternoon and found a hostel and set up our various tours for today and got a bus ticket to Arequipa for tonight.
This morning we had the flight over the Nazca lines. These are gigantic lines in the ground that can only be seen from the air. Lots of straight lines and triangles, but also animal figures. No one knows the real reason why they are here. Could be some sort of calendar, astronomical observatory, aides for shamans, or for extraterrestrials. The figures are: whale, triangles, trapezoids, astronaut, monkey, dog, condor, spider, hummingbird, Alcatraz, parrot, tree, and hands. Its pretty weird, the astronaut is on the side of a hill next to some lines that look like they could be a landing strip, we watched a video that suggested it might be greeting visitors to the planet.
After the lines we went on a tour of the Chauchilla cemetary which is old tombs with mummies. Cool, but kind of creepy. The bodies were all pretty well preserved when they found them, but now they are looking rougher since theyve been out in the sun and wind for a few years. Then after that a tour of a pottery shop and a gold shop.
That all got over at about 1300 so weve been killing time in Nazca since then. Hence there being time for this nice long blog post. Off to Arequipa tonight on the night bus. Not sure if well spend the night there tomorrow or try to catch another night bus to Cusco. We shall see.
posted Monday January 2008