Monday, November 25, 2013

Bugs, Bones and Bah Humbug

In every trip, there are bound to be a few glitches.  Sometimes the things you anticipate seeing the most…..well, suffice it to say that sometimes you don’t see those things.  Take Nazca for example.  

Every trip to Peru, if it is going to feature the highlights, will include a trip to Nazca to see the famous lines.  We had all watched the documentaries, we had done the research, we had committed to paying; the LINES were going to be another tick on our bucket list.  Of course, Mother Nature is a fickle woman and every so often she makes sure that we all remember who is REALLY in charge (besides the Admiral).  Having owned a small plane in the past, I’m well aware that visibility is critical to flying without instruments, and if we were going to see anything the visibility needed to justify going up. 
We arrived at the airport at 8am, and proceeded to wait.  

Patiently waiting

Apparently, the visibility was crap the day before, so all those people that had signed up then were now hogging our air time.  After hounding the flight desk, (after all, as tour leader “Marge in Charge”, it was my responsibility to do what I could to get us up in the air), we were finally given the go ahead at 11am.  

NOW I'm ready to go
All systems GO!
And......NOT gonna happen

This monkey drawn in the sidewalk at our hotel in Paracas, and holding our precious Pisco Sours, was the closest we got to see the lines, as seconds after the shot above was taken the airport was shut down and we were out of luck. You can only do what you can do.

All was not lost.  We had a full afternoon of touring to do, which of course included bones.  Chaucilla Cemetery was not really a “must do”, but as we had started the trip with bones and skulls, it seems fitting to return to the theme.  As you can see from the landscape, it’s brown, and windy.  We braved the dust and saw lots of mummies, skeletons, skulls, and bones.  The upright, seated pose is the preferred burial position, taking up less space.  

Not sure I'd like this location as my final resting place

Archaeology or Tomb Robbing?
Mummy Condos
Mummy Dreads
A tour to the still working aqueducts demonstrated how serious the Inca were about water.  In the center is running water, coming from……somewhere, and connecting to the rest of the aqueducts all in a row in the middle of this field.  Given the landscape we had seen so far, we could understand why.

Ancient Aqueducts

A unique crop that we saw all over Central and South America – it’s not the cactus, it’s the bugs ON the cactus.  Cochineal is an insect that is used to make red dye for food colorants and the carmine used by painters around the world.  The farmers scrape the leaves 3 times in a year, and then they need to replant as the cactus is all “used up.” 

Cactus Field
Healthy Crop of Bugs

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