Terror in the Nasca Skies! We all could not fit into one airplane, so one of our fellow travelers graciously consented to wait for a second aircraft so that Karen and I could ride together. Alas Peruanas, was the flight company that provided the light aircraft for our adventurous ride. We didn’t crash while we flew over the Nasca lines, but we certainly got queasy stomachs as the pilot did sudden, acrobatic dips with the plane to give us better views of the mysterious and mystic figures scratched on the pampa below. We were able to make out and photograph many lines such as the “whale”, “triangles”, “trapezoid”, “astronaut”, “monkey”, ”dog”, “condor”, “spider”, “humming bird” , “alcatraz”, “parrot”, “hands” and “tree”. We also saw hundreds of other unnamed lines running in all directions. It was very strange. Carlos believes that the Nasca lines were an attempt to communicate with the Gods. He points out that the line known as the “astronaut” has” one hand pointed to the heavens, and one hand down, signifying a connection between the Gods and the earth. After seeing the lines up close and personal, we are still just as puzzled as before about their purpose and origin. But that’s all right, because all the Peruvians can’t figure it out either.
After the flight, we enjoyed the lectures and presentations of Edgardo Aguilar, an excellent local Nasca guide, as we toured the very dry Chauchilla Cemetery to see the ancient mummies still preserved in the sand. We were astounded to see that the young women braided their hair in a similar fashion as the Hopi women in the Southwestern United States! Many of the graves had been looted or disturbed, as the selling of artifacts is very big business in Peru. Edgardo told us that the huaqueros (grave robbers) were very bad guys and you don't mess with them because they were part of a very well-organized "mob.”
After the cemetery we went to a pottery production place and saw a pottery demonstration by potter Juan José Gallegos Cajo. Of course we wound up with a few pots. We ended the day with a tour of a local gold mining processing plant. It was amazing to see that the gold ore is taken out of the rocks completely by hand in Peru, as the workers stand on wooden trestles shaped like teeter-tooters and work the gold out of a mixed slurry of water and ore.
Late in the afternoon, we returned to the Hotel Majoro to wait until time to catch our overnight bus to Arequipa at 10:30PM. Unfortunately, a large group of Germans had invaded the hotel bringing with them their typical loud, obnoxious and rude behavior. We had noticed an almost complete absence of smoking up to this time, but the Germans put an end to that! We went to the outdoor bar to escape the smoke, but they were there in droves. Our friendly Hotel Majoro bartender waited on us and rolled his eyes to let us know what he thought of the Germans. Then he gave us free Pisco Sours; and charged them to the Germans.
Later that evening, we took the bus ride from Hell from Nasca to Arequipa. We got on the cramped Tepsa bus at 11pm, and rode all night through incredible mountain roads and hairpin curves, arriving in Arequipa just before 8am, Tuesday morning. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep much and fought nausea and car sickness all night. Along the way, the bus "stewardess" served us sandwiches and coca tea, but it did not make up for the extreme discomfort and nausea from traveling so many miles of mountain roads. But we survived! It was certainly one of the lower points of the entire trip. The sun was just coming up as we entered the Arequipa valley. It was a beautiful and welcome sight.