Sunday, January 27, 2013

Saturday, Jan 26th, Nazca, Peru


The desert south of Lima is the northern stretch of the Atacama desert found in northern Chile.  So if you were to find the adventure we took to Chile and Argentina two years ago, you'd see scenes that look very much like what we saw today.  This place gets about 30 minutes of rain a year, and it's hard to imagine it could support a dozen civilizations spanning at least 5,000 years.

Our bus ride took seven hours from Lima, and it's the first time the we've been on a bus which contained a urine-only toilet.  Boy, was I happy to arrive in Nazca province.  On our afternoon tour,  Brady guided us through the remnants of the occupation of Nazca by five civilizations.  We had seen the beautiful pottery found at the main mountain ceremonial site, but walking it with Brady was particularly inspiring.  It's walls demonstrated mud-brick, river rock and mud, and clay-brick (without forms - fingerprints were found on them) levels.  In addition to 600-year old pottery shards, original corn stalks and cotton could be found along the path.  

But what impressed us the most were the innovative underground wells and aqueducts introduced a thousand years earlier by the Paracas which still nourish the Nazca agricultural and urban area from their 34 wells.  Designed to tap into the runoff from the valley's surrounding mountains, the knowledge needed to incorporate both advanced recycling systems and elevation protection measures is mind-blowing.  They are truly the lifespring of Nazca.  On the way back to the hotel, we got to meet Don Roberto Calle Benevides, the premiere Nazca potter, who still uses the traditional non-wheel techniques, and whose father pioneered archeology research into pottery development in the early 20th century,

This evening, we attended a very impressive presentation at the Maria Riesch Planetarium, describing her life-long work on the Nazca lines, and bringing us closer to understanding the who and why of what we'll see tomorrow.  We're going up at 9am in a two-passenger plane to look around, and I'm including here some photos I took at an exhibit which stood outside the Planetarium.  What may surprise you (it did us) is how many of these lines are not the well-known figures (monkey, hummingbird, astronaut), but straight lines and geometric figures.  

To see all of the photos taken today, click on: Nazca.

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