Nasca is most famous for the “Nasca Lines” (duh). These lines in the desert were supposedly made by the ancient Nasca people, possibly to appease the gods to bring rain to their parched land. Other theories exist as to how these lines came to be. After planes began flying over the area, passengers noticed the huge drawings on the ground and the Nasca Lines became known.
Planes carrying between 2 and 10 passengers plus pilot and co-pilot take sightseers up for 30 minute rides. First we had to get weighed in public for load and balance. I must have been carrying 15 kilograms of camera equipment since I couldn’t really be that heavy.
A 7-seater with no air conditioning was to be my ride. The take off and first few minutes gave us great views of the Pan American Highway. When it was time for us to view each of the 12 drawings, the pilot would bank the plane severely and circle, first for the right side passengers to see, then the left. By the 8th drawing, the hummingbird, my stomach was queezey. By number 9, I was checking to make sure the seat had a barf bag. For 10 through 12, I just focused on the horizon. Viewing the last few dirt pictures were not worth puking my guts out. I can’t recall the last time that I’ve been so eager to exit a small plane. Despite my desert induced suntan, friends commented that I looked white for quite a while after returning to earth.
Six of us had paid to go on a 3 hour afternoon dune buggy expedition in the desert. After returning from the airport, I thought I would walk from my $30 afternoon investment. Many of you know how difficult that would be for me. I really felt lousy. After a nap, I was ready to give it a try. I’m sure glad I did.
Buckled up in serious harnesses, we started our one-hour ride through the desert to get to the dunes. It’s interesting how people’s perspectives of a situation can differ: I was delighted that I did not have to ride my bike on the sandy, rutted trails, and could just enjoy the ride and scenery. Several of the guys would have liked to have been riding their bikes. It was obvious that our driver had extensive experience on these trails. Very quickly he drove, catching air on multiple hills.
Then we saw the giant mounds of sand playground. All exited the buggy for a last minute pit stop and for the driver to partially deflate the tires. Onto the dunes we rode. Our ride was what the major theme parks try to replicate, only way better. Jonathan would drive up one side of a valley. Just when we thought we would be needing the protection of the roll cage, he would turn downward and we would accelerate to take on the opposite side. It was so exhilarating and a bit scary, I’m sure I could be heard screaming for miles.
Just when I thought we were going over a cliff at the top of the tallest dune, Jonathan stopped the buggy with the front tires hooked over the edge. It was time to get out and use snowboards to slide down the dunes. We all gave it a try with varying degrees of success. After exhaustion began to set in, we slid down one last time and were picked up at the bottom of the dune for the trek home.
21-Feb Nasca “rest day”
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