October to meet my volunteering commitment I had to drag myself away. I took the overnight bus to Nazca, enroute to Lima. Despite paying top dollar for the 'best' bus company, Cruz Del Sur, it was the worst bus journey of this entire trip. Despite being the most comfy bus I’ve ever been on with service like an airplane, hot food and a game of Bingo where I got the numbers but didn’t really know what was going on, people kept getting up and going down to the microphone to answer general knowledge questions! The road goes across the Andes, so it’s 14 hours of up and down, round and round. For someone who never gets car sick or sea sick, I felt pretty damn sick. The views must have been spectacular if it hadn’t been the middle of the night. On arriving in Nazca someone told me that the same night a Cruz del Sur bus heading in the opposite direction was hijacked at gunpoint and all the passengers lost everything
. So much for being the safest, next time I’m taking the cheapo option.
At the bus station there were about 30 taxi drivers outside the locked gates all shouting ‘taxi miss?’ and vying for my attention telling me to unbolt the huge gate. Everyone was really nice and friendly and despite having thought Nazca would be bit dodgy it felt absolutely safe. My hostel was lovely if a little quaint. Run by a shrewd old woman who speaks no English, it was more like an old English garden house than a hostel. The dorm room was like a mini house, 5 beds, a kitchen table, ensuite bathroom and TV. There was just one other guest, a guy from Ireland, luckily nice and normal although it was a bit strange just the two if us sharing this little house having only just met! I was desperate to go straight to bed and sleep but as soon as I arrived a man turned up and offered me a flight over the Nazca lines in an hours time which I found myself saying yes to. People get worried about arranging trips etc but really you don’t need to do anything, somebody will just appear and offer you all the trips you want! The taxi driver offered me a trip to the Chauchilla Cemetery which I declined thinking it was too expensive.
A man with a car turned up to take me to the airport and help me buy my ticket, not sure who he was but he must have been associated with the airline in some way
. At the airport there are about 10 different airlines, all using the same tiny 6 seat planes at the same cost of $100 so it doesn’t really matter who you go with. On my flight were 5 middle aged to old women on a Gap Adventures tour. Another reason to put me off Gap Adventures. They were all a bit nutty but we had a laugh on the plane – I love flying and I love it even more in a small plane especially when they swooped down low so we could get a good view of the lines. There were two pilots, one doing a running commentary of the symbols below us. It was amazing – these massive engravings in the desert that nobody really knows the origin of. You really do need to take the flight to appreciate how strange (and large) the figures are.
Nazca town centre is set around the Plaza de Armas. It reminded me of an old Western. I went into a restaurant and they said they would make me a vegetable soup. It came with bits of meat in it – when I questioned it they explained in Spanish that the soup is made from bones so it’s not really meat. To illustrate, the waiter said "it’s just like your empty water bottle, it’s the plastic but not the water"?!! At least they made me a nice vegetable grill and chips instead. I found the only travel agents in town (there really is nothing in Nazca) and booked a group tour to the cemetery tomorrow – for more money that the taxi driver originally offered, no wonder he was insulted when I said his price was too expensive :s
The next day I went on the trip to the cemetery – a driver/tourguide turned up and apparently there was only me on the trip
! People here love it when they hear I’m learning Spanish and try to help so the tour guide spoke very slowly and unnecessarily loudly in Spanish. Needless to say I only understood half of what he was saying and therefore only got a vague idea of what I was seeing as usual. We went to see some guy finding gold out of some stones, some other guy making pottery replicas of Inca relics and finally to the cemetery. Well!! The Irish guy had warned me that it wasn’t a traditional cemetery but Oh My God!!! Imagine an area smack bang in the middle of the desert and loads of holes in the sand full of horrifying MUMMIES complete with original waist length HAIR! The guide poked a few with his stick to illustrate that they are real then buggered off and said he’d meet me in 20 minutes. So I am completely alone in this nightmare of a graveyard, wandering around finding mummy after mummy, each one more horrific than the last. I was terrified of falling into one of the graves and touching them! As I was walking down the ‘paths’ there were bones and pieces of cotton exposed when the wind blows the sand away and hollowed out areas where gravediggers come at night to steal the gold and ceramics buried with the families. The guide explained that there is no security at night and the government has no money to do anything. I couldn’t believe they were just sitting out in the sand like that. I was still in a state of shock when I reached the taxi, but couldn’t stop myself taking photo after photo, I mean these were pre-Inca people. It was certainly an experience!
Despite Nazca being the backend of nowhere I could have stayed at the hostel forever. It was hilarious overhearing a Japanese man in broken English trying to get the old woman to call him a taxi whereby she kept saying ‘Juan? Juan?’ and he would say ‘Taxi? Taxi?’. When I kept trying to pay all I got was ‘Juan?’ - I never found out who Juan was but obviously someone quite important. So after just one night in Nasca I was done so I hopped on a local bus for a few dollars to the oasis town of Huacachina for some sun!
More photos here:
Cusco is the type of place that bakcpackers can hang out at forever.. Eventually if I was going to get to Ecuador for the 3