In the terms of this holiday we had a relaxed start to the day, an 8am pick up. At the small airport we were each weighed individually (I came to 71.8kg) and then we waited along with the rest of the crowd for our designated flight. Looking at the pamphlets it seems that the company we had signed up with were at pains to point out that all their planes were new, which put into context of the last few years dreadful safety record makes sense but it was a little disturbing. No matter, we were still keen and after a tight security check we were led out to our plane by the co-pilot along with 10 other passengers. Given that there are a lot of rumours about the flights being more like a roller coaster due to the thermals coming off the plains we were lucky and sat at the front of the plane with Eleanor in the middle. This also gave us a great view as we smoothly took off for a view of the Nasca lines.

The plains which contain the Nazca lines are a very peculiar place. Firstly this high arid plateau stretches about 80km and it has a very slow rate of erosion due to the typical early morning mists which damp the ground so that the afternoon winds shift very little. Also the white sandy surface is covered by a very thin layer of dark coloured rock. By selectively removing the rock the Nazca culture in approx. 400 to 650 AD were able to create pictures and patterns. There are many huge pictures of animals but also some extraordinarily vast patterns of lines and geometrical shapes. One of the intriguing features of these lines is that due to their size they can only really be appreciated from the air, leading some historians to conclude that the Nazca culture must have developed an early form of balloon flight. An alternative hypothesis is that the lines marked out water ways under ground. In either case the accuracy of the patterns is amazing and it was great fun swooping over each animal pattern in our small plane, each one twice as we made a pass for the left side and then the right side of the aeroplane. We tried to get pictures of each shape but we flew past very quickly and were also distracted just looking at them. I thought the flight had been very smooth, including the landing, but the evidence from behind us suggests at least one passenger succumbed to the queasy feeling in her gut.

Back on Terra firma we were faced with a long drive back to Lima, but this was broken up by a stop at a winery. We had a tour with a young lad who was still railing against the influence f the Spanish, 'they change everything!' he cried. I couldn't help but think that 500 years is a little late to keep the bee in your bonnet but then I suppose my country was doing the invading rather than being invaded at the time. The tour started with the area where the grapes are crushed and we were a little disturbed to learn that this is simply a party where the great unwashed public are invited in to dance on grapes. Asked about hygiene and we were told that a few extra bugs were good for the taste! We were much happier about this when we learnt that they didn't in fact make wine but boiled off the alcohol to make Pisco, a grape brandy. After our tour in the burning hot sun we relaxed with some Pisco tasting, including the nicknamed 'panty breaker' Pisco and the 'baby maker' Pisco. By the end it all tasted very good and I'm sure their sales are boosted by the 'get the tourists drunk' Pisco's.

Back in Lima our progress was slightly hampered by the palm Sunday celebrations and we jumped out of the van just before the hotel to avoid the grid lock that was gripping the roads. Out in the main square we saw several parades. These seemed to take the same form of a group of men carrying a large plinth on their shoulders on top of which was a statue of presumably religious significance. This was accompanied by a band playing very morose music. This continued for a short while and then everything stopped for a little back, and repeat. While watching this we noticed that the palace was open for a special display so we joined the short queue to wait our turn. Inside the style of the building felt very European with many displays of Inca pottery. It was very crowded and we were all ushered through to ensure that those following would have a chance to glance at the exhibits, or at least someone had a target of numbers of feet through the door! All that remained was to find some food to finish the day off which wasn't altogether a success, the food looked nice but took so long to arrive it was cold. Perhaps we should have asked for a minute of microwave time.