Sunday, April 09, 2006

Peru: Whale in the Desert

I spent the last two weeks in Peru, where I saw a whale in the desert, spotted condors flying over a canyon 3 kilometres deep with ancient terraced slopes, and visited a village situated on man-made islands that float around Lake Titicaca.

The whale in the desert was one of the Nasca Lines, ancient carvings each about 100 metres long, that can't be identified from the earth. When seen from an airplane you easily spot carvings of animals, birds, and people. Why these figures were carved hundreds of years before the technology to view them existed is one of those mysteries which nutcases love. Some claim the figures were made by or for aliens.

I took a 30 minute flight to see the Nasca Lines in an airplane that has room for only 5 passengers. The first 2 minutes were fun. Then as the first figure came into sight, the pilot banked sharply so the passengers on the left could see the figure. Then he banked the other way, which allowed the other passengers to see the figure, and allowed my recently-eaten breakfast to try to escape my stomach prematurely. With each new figure came two more violent turns by the pilot, and more opportunities for my stomach to knot and twist and attempt to release its contents. I fidgeted with the white paper bag supplied for each passenger, and counted down the minutes until landing. 25 minutes left...20 minutes left...15 minutes (that's halfway!)...14 minutes (less than halfway)... 13 minutes (I hope this flight lands on time)...12 minutes (maybe it lands early)... 11 minutes (I should have stayed on the ground and watched the BBC documentary about the lines)... 10 minutes (I'm never flying again - hey, only a third to go!) and so on. When I got off the plane I involuntarily imitated the pope, kneeling and kissing the ground. I then spent the near couple of hours in my hotel room, letting my intestines unknot. By some miracle my breakfast left my stomach the normal way at the normal time.

Seeing the Nasca Lines from the sky definitely was not worth it.

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