Today we started a two day tour with the aim of travelling down the length of Peru to see the Nazca lines. This would be quite a trek and most of our time would be spent in a small mini bus travelling but we had heard some good tales of the lines that we didn't think we could miss out. Our bus turned up early to pick us up so we rushed down only to be rushing up shortly afterwards when they said that we couldn't take our big bags but only two small bags. A rush pack later we persuaded the hotel to hold the rest of our luggage and we were off.
Our fellow passengers were an Argentinian man and a Canadian mother and daughter who I would have sworn were America which might have explained the 'made in Canada' tattoo on the daughters wrist; I assume we weren't the first to make that mistake. After a short drive we arrived at our first stop; the Pachacamac ruins. At first glance this looked like a dusty hillside overlooking the sprawl of Peru and the sea but there are many structures from 800-1400 AD. 17 separate structures have been found to date and we had a guide to take us around each one in turn, with a bus to take us between them which made us feel quite lazy when we saw that others were just walking. Howeve, the sun was fierce and we were glad for the shorts breaks of air conditioning. The final temple on the top of the hill was the most impresive with a fine view along the coast. Sadly for many this was their last view as this was the scene of human sacrifices by the Inca's, but quite a view to end on.
Our second stop was at an Inca museum where there was a large fesitval being set up outside. Our guide told us this was in honor of a particular type of local tree whose wood is used in totems, many of which we saw inside. We had a special guide to take us around the exhibits who had a lot of rapid fire facts to impact. We saw a lot of pottery from prior to the Spanish invasion and some textiles, also some Interpole pictures of textiiles that had been stolen. Both these items were used to record something of history and so the Spanish did not look too kindly on these as they trid to re-write the history and so perfect specimins are not in abundance. No one should accuse the Inca's of not being thorough, we saw some examples of the heads of enermies which had had their brains pulled out, their eyes covered, the lips sewn up and a hole put in the head to thread them together - definately dead. Finally there were some elogated skulls which must have made alien fanatics get excited but were in fact the result of constant pressure applied to babies, ouch!
Our final stop of the day was less cultural and more active, we were to be taken for a ride in a dune buggy, similar to this. These beast of machines have space for nine passengers in the back and are open except for a roll cage and sit on large tyres which are attached to a powerful engine. In the past these machines were simply hired out to the pubilc but after two French tourists killed themselves they sensibly now come with a driver. This is lucky because a bit of local knowledge goes a long way when bouncing over the top of dunes. We stopped a few times to take some snow boards off the back and slide down the steeper dunes. I tried to stand up but the bindings weren't such a good match for my sandals but everyone, including the 65 year old Canadian mother (with the background shouts of 'go mama' from the driver!) , got to the bottom on their fronts.
At last we made it Nazca and we checked into a nice hotel. The Canadian daughter proved that they weren't joking when they told you at the airport to keep your entry form on you at all times and was charged $17 for the lesson. Nazca is obviously thriving because of it's connection to tourism and as we strolled down the road it was easy to pick out options for food. This made the fact that we seemed to have picked the one with the slowest possible service all the more frustrating and by the tiem our pizza'a arrive Eleanor was almost asleep!