Nazca was a sleepy little desert town before the discovery of the Nasca lines etched into the desert, the best way to see them is from the air but a spate of crashes has put most tourists off, not to mention the swirling clouds of fine sand that fill the air from about 11am onwards killing the visibility from the air.
We went for safety and booked a tour with Carlos over to the newly discovered Pyramids in the Chauchilla desert. The Cahuachi Pyramids were only discovered recently by an Italian archeologist and they think there a lots more to be discovered under the sands. The area currently looks like the dig site in Raiders of the lost Ark, with lots of mounds still to be uncovered. There is a government rule that unless a project is completed the uncovered remains have to be recovered over – but will incredibly strong winds and a background of the highest sand dune in the world it doesn’t take long to lose sight of everything.
We stopped at a viewing platform on the way back that lets you climb 15 metres into the air to look down on the “hands” and the “tree” Nazca Lines. They were made and preserved over 100s of years so are now permanent dips in the desert floor, during the year the trenches (about a foot wide and about 5 inches deep) fill with sand but the dust storms then sweep the trenches clear.
The lines are everywhere but it is only recently that their presence and the impact of all the tourists coming to see them has allowed them to be preserved. Years ago the Government allowed the Pan American highway to be built straight through the lines of a lizard and you can still see the marks the road crews made with their trucks over his body and one of his hands.
There are 3 theories for the lines; they were made by the Nazca’s as an offering to the gods in exchange for water, that they were used as a calendar to manage the crops etc or that they were built as an aid for landing for extra terestial beings…
The only picture that is vaguely human is on a mountain side (higher than all the animal and plant drawings) and shows a human figure with a large square head and huge eyes – just like an alien. The local explanation is that it is a shaman wearing and owl headdress but there are plenty of theories that this is a drawing of an alien visitor.
The tour also stopped at an ancient aquaduct still used today and at a old Nazca grave yard which had visible bones from thousands of years ago all disturbed by grave robbers. Totally freaky especially as some of the hair and braids were still preserved in the dry dirt.
Of course the boys pulled together the bits to make their best Jack Sparrow impersonation.