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December 24, 2003

Where They Drew The Line

DAY 64: I was lying in bed in the darkness of my room with no windows when there was a knock on the door. It was my driver for my transport to the airport -- an hour and a half early. Lizet, the girl I booked the Nazca lines air tour with the day before, must have mixed something up, because I was suddenly on an 8 a.m. flight instead of a 9. Groggily, I put on my clothes and hopped in the car. It was the first time things in Peru actually ran ahead of schedule.

My driver Ernesto -- who surprisingly spoke very good English -- proved once again how small the world is when he told me he had lived and worked in Union City, NJ (across the Hudson River from New York City) for twenty years before retiring back in Peru. With our metro New York City connection, he suggested that if I was going to leave Nazca that night, I should get a bus ticket early, so we went to the CIVA office and snagged one of the few remaining seats.


By 8 a.m. I was already in the co-pilot seat of a prop plane, taking off high above the desert mountains. The pilot let go of the controls every so often to point out the different pictographs that had been drawn in the earth. The Nazca civilization drew many lines and pictures in the desert, including a whale (picture above), a spider, a hummingbird and a guy that looks like an astronaut.

Since the Nazcas predated the Incas and left no written records of why the lines and pictures were drawn, they remain a mystery to this day. Several theories exist, including that of UFO contact, but many believe that they were drawn as a sort of astronomical calendar -- each picture represents a zodiac sign. Famed German scientist Maria Reiche believed they had agricultural purposes.

If you ask me, I think that perhaps they were just drawn for art's sake, or perhaps some sort of commercial purpose. Comedian Robin Williams once pointed out a Disney office building with statues of the seven dwarfs and said that in thousands of years, people will probably think the Floridian civilization worshipped guys like Dopey.

Although the prop plane flight was very smooth, the lack of equilibrium got me a little motion sick, so it was good it only lasted about 40 minutes. Having airsickness is similar to being hungover, so I had one of those Hangover Helper pork-filled breakfast tamales again.

"ERIK," A VOICE CALLED from across the street as I finished my meal. It was my new guide who was looking for me for my land tour. His name was Jesus, a kind man who always addressed me by my first name everytime he started a new sentence. I hopped in his car and he drove me to the archaelogical sites around town. Passed cotton fields, we saw the ancient underground Nazca aqueducts with their air vents to keep the flow of water going from the mountains to the dry desert. A mathematical marvel, the aqueducts have withstood the many earthquakes in the region's history.

Jesus took me to the"Needles", a nearby Nazca line site theorized to be used for irrigation, followed by the ancient Incan ruins of Parecones, a trading center between the Nazca region and the Incan capital Cuzco.

AFTER A MIDDAY SIESTA, I circumvented possible mix-ups of Lizet the tour operator and hired Jesus directly for a tour of the ancient cemetary, 30 minutes south of town in the middle of the vast desert. On the drive down, Jesus told me about his philosophies on life and his sons, how he believed electrical jobs were the future, and that he wishes he could turn the clock back twenty years to start a water plant.

"Erik, [I tell my son who is finishing university, leave Peru and get a good job in electrical fields. Work for fifteen years and come back and make a plant here. Marry a woman, as long as she is not Peruvian. The problem with Peruvian women is that they think with their heart, not their head,]" he told me, all fatherly like. Perhaps it was in observation of his daughters that gave up their prosperous careers to just be housewives.

DESERT WINDS BLEW SAND into my hair as Jesus pointed out the different tombs of the cemetary. In fact, the entire region was one big cemetary -- there were human bone remains and scraps of clothing scattered all over -- and it is common for gravediggers to come out and try and dig for hidden gold buried with the dead. The mummies were all in fetal positions -- a position to be reborn in the afterlife -- some still with their hair intact. It looked like something out of a Grateful Dead festival.

After the mummies, Jesus took me to a handmade ceramics factory and to a local former miner's house who sang me a gold extraction demonstration. I killed time until my 9 p.m. bus by walking around town afterwards, when I ran into Lizet who wanted me to go to some party. Heeding the advice of Jesus and knowing how she mixed things up before, I just told her that I was leaving for Cuzco, which was the truth anyway.

At the bus station, the bus came 90 minutes late, but I managed to get on. Even with a reservation, it's hard to get a seat because the buses stop in towns and pick up random people anyway. Two American guys luckily got on the bus as well, and we rode through the darkness into the Andes. A Steven Segal movie put me to sleep.

If you enjoy this daily travel blog, please post a comment! Give me suggestions, send me on missions, let me know how things are going back home in the USA. Knowing that I have an audience will only force me to make this blog more entertaining as the days go by. Donīt forget to bookmark it and let a friend know!

Posted by Erik on December 24, 2003 12:50 PM
TrackBack | Category: Peru


i'm a million years behind on your blog... SORRY!! got caught up in the holiday mess.

looking forward to playing catch-up this loooooong weekend.... 4.5 days off w/no trips planned (grrr!)...this is a frist & i'm not happy! i'll have to read your stories & pretend i'm traveling too...


p.s. - your dad looks exactly like you!!! saw him at uncle tommy's bday bash. i kept doing double takes "what's erik doing here".

(i'm jealous)

Posted by: elaine on December 24, 2003 02:08 PM

First! Merry Xmas Erik!

Posted by: oogy on December 24, 2003 02:10 PM

Damn! Blindsided by a dial-up slow connection!!


Awesome pics again! Love the astronaut/ET.

You should include the line drawings in your T-shirts!

Posted by: oogy on December 24, 2003 02:12 PM

MERRY CHRISTMAS, ERIK! i hope you are going to be celebrating it doing something fun, like a party with drinking. would we be able to find you drunk online again tonight? =)

Posted by: alice on December 24, 2003 02:59 PM

merry Christmas erik!

Posted by: paul on December 24, 2003 03:21 PM

happy chanukah man...

Posted by: markyt on December 24, 2003 03:27 PM

Happy Festivus!!!

...waits for cue to start hitting oogy.

Posted by: Love Penny on December 24, 2003 04:06 PM


you spent xmas eve w/jesus! not bad!! (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!)

i just finished reading 16 entries...(DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!)
i'm all caught up now!! great stories, great photos! (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!)

i planned on playing catch-up during my 4.5 days off...but got hooked. (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!)
read a few stories, left the comptuer & then came back for more... (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!) now i'm done:( (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!)

peru sounds like a good time. (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!)
i'm headed there in april! too bad you'll be long gone. (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!)

the amazon - WOW!!!! (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!) glad you survived. what an adventure. would like to try it someday! (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!)

sandboarding - NICE!!!! would like to try that too (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!) atleast there isn't any ice patches. (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!) is it harder than snowboarding? did i tell you heather & i are off to colorado in jan?? can't wait. (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!)

hey - did lara have the POINT IT book??? hahaha. i have that too. it's the best book ever:) (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!) you never need to speak the language.. just POINT IT! (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!)

must shower (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!) & go join in on the xmas eve festivities. .. (DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG!)

p.s - DO NOT STOP POSTING THE BLOG! when i'm not traveling, i'm traveling through you!

(i'm jealous)

Posted by: elaine on December 24, 2003 06:39 PM

Erik: It's interesting what Robin Williams said about the dwarfs. If the Nazcas knew of our wild speculations they'd probably laugh themselves back into extinction.

Elaine: I LOVE your eloquent summery of the last 16 days! Beautiful! I completly concur with your central theme, and I'm glad you're back to posting! :)

Posted by: Td0t on December 24, 2003 07:08 PM

elaine - that post was almost as long as ur hair :-)

Posted by: markyt on December 24, 2003 07:37 PM

We are gathered here in your house celebrating Christmas. We are eating, drinking, and socializing. We hope you are having a fun time there in Peru. The foods are:
lechon kawali
beef patties
buffalo wings
lumpia shanghai
sherbet drink
shrimp cocktails
cheese platter
veggie sticks
We hope you have a Merry Christmas and we miss you.
Your Family

Posted by: Your Family on December 24, 2003 07:51 PM

that wasn't me... i could care less... hahaha... drinking lots of wine by myself...

tranquilo, tranquilo...

Posted by: markyt on December 24, 2003 08:10 PM

Merry Christmas!!

Posted by: Dan on December 24, 2003 08:25 PM

I think Jesus has a double here in New Yawk, I could've SWORE he was my cabbie last night....

Keep livin' large, and Merry Xmas, mate!

Posted by: Moman on December 24, 2003 09:08 PM

Merry Christmas Erik!

Posted by: Christy on December 24, 2003 11:52 PM

feliz navidad....

Posted by: markyt on December 25, 2003 01:20 AM

Hey Erik

Merry Xmas. I am so sleepy after a wonderful lunch, courtesy our neighbour. But, newspapers dont stop working even on Xmas, so am reading up all the blogs and spreading my xmas greetings 8-)

Posted by: Dusty on December 25, 2003 02:01 AM

merry christmas erik!

Posted by: Francis on December 25, 2003 02:38 AM

Merry Christmas Erik from me and Howard. (He reads your blog religiously too.) :D

Posted by: Rina on December 25, 2003 09:33 AM



From: Tony, Nancy and me.

Posted by: Dtella on December 25, 2003 01:05 PM

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