Hairy Mummies, Flying-High Shamans and Much More

Trip Start Nov 22, 2005
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Trip End May 15, 2006


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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Finally, a beach!!! After having spent almost a month at dizzy altitudes, we finally made our descent to the sandy shores of Puerto Inca. Puerto Inca was the original port of the Inca empire. Royal couriers would actually deliver fresh fish on foot from this beach directly to the kingīs table in Cusco. I was quite content to just lie on the beach and soak up some well deserved sun rays. That night we cooked a campfire BBQ and slept on the shores of the beach.

Next stop was Nasca but before then we made a slight detour to the Chauchilla cemetery. There are hundreds of cemeteries in the area with many well preserved mummies due to the dry climate. In fact they were so well preserved that most still had their skin and hair intact. Many old cemeteries in the area have been robbed by grave diggers and, oddly enough, dead bodies are worth a lot in the black market. But they do have some etiquette codes they must follow before going about their grave digging business. First they would get drunk on cheap sugar cane liquor to overcome the fear of haunting spirits. They also chewed cocoa leaves for strength and courage. Grave diggers would only carry on with their grave digging business on full moon lit nights because there is a superstition that the souls of the dead remain calm on a full moon. Only after all this would they then locate the graves and remove all dead bodies and possessions.

Finally we arrived at Nasca. Nasca is a very quiet, actually boring, little city. The only reason why people visit is because of the strange parallel lines and geometrical figures etched into the desert floor. They have been dated before Inca times but they are so large and precise that the drawings can only been seen from the air. Itīs a mystery as to how they were able to etch the figures so precisely and why they would only need to be viewed from the air. My favourite theory is the Flying Shaman theory. Shamans would take psycho-active drugs to convince them that they can fly. This was so they could enter the real world of spirits and rid sick people of evil spirits. The theory is that the lines are designed to be seen from the mindīs eye of the flying shaman.

One of our last stops before the end of our Peruvian tour was at Huacachina. Huacachina is a desert oasis surrounded by huge sand dunes. As far as the eye can see are sand dunes and I still have no idea how our driver was able to navigate his way around them. We drove around in sand buggies and our (at times, crazy) driver knew where all the unexpected dips in the sand dunes were. I think he enjoyed those moments where he would race over the edge of a sand dune enough to set off 6 girls screaming. Afterwards we went sand boarding which wasnīt as scary as I initially thought. After I went down the "baby" slope, I confidently went down the next biggest dune and was shortly thrown off my board and sent rolling down the dune. I almost didnīt go down the next biggest dune but after I was re briefed about the best technique for boarding, Iīm happy to report that I reached the bottom without any injuries or falls. That night we had a pisco sour party in the middle of the sand dunes. With unlimited free sangria and pisco sour on offer, there were a few drunken people attempting very ambitious sand boarding down sand dunes which looked a lot bigger at the time. That night we slept under the stars with our sleeping bags. The following morning we drove back to the city in our sand buggies, which probably isnīt the best form of travel when recovering from a big night out. All in all, this was probably the best party night I had in Peru and I overcame my fear of boarding.
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