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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Nazca Lines

My town is located in a river valley that is flanked by a pretty high cerro on one side and a smaller less imposing cerro on the other. Being somewhat adventurous and fairly lazy, I asked one of the guys from the municipality if he wanted to take a hike up to the top of the smaller, closer cerro to see what’s up there and get a nice panoramic view of the area. He was more than willing and eager to be my guide even though he’s lived here a third of his life and never climbed up there himself. My site mate was also down for a little hike so the three of us waited until it wasn’t hot as hell, found a little trail and started up the hill.

From the top of the hill, there were gorgeous views of both our towns and the green river valleys below. The top of the hill was very flat with light beige dirt littered with dark colored rocks. As we walked along the top of the hill, it became evident that there were walking among ancient Nazca lines. There were small, straight paths bisecting large cleared out areas that, to me, looked like makeshift runways. The Nazca lines were large figures drawn in the dirt by a pre-Incan civilization called the Nazcas to either pay homage to their gods or communicate with extraterrestrials (I’m a big fan of the latter theory). They created these designs in the light colored dirt by picking out the dark colored rocks and tossing them off to the side. The only way to appreciate these geoglyphs is by viewing them from a high vantage point like an airplane, a technology that, to the best of my knowledge, wasn’t available to them at the time.

There are signs on the side of the highway that point to a Nazca sun dial so we walked towards where we thought it was and found a great view of the geoglyph. It’s a formation about the size of half a football field that to me looked kind of like an owl with parallel lines for the body, two trapezoidal eyes and an off-center beak. We found out later that the design was more likely some sort of woven tapestry with a couple of needles. It’s one of the few geoglyphs in the area that can be viewed without renting a plane.

The next day my site mate and I went to the museum in her town and saw all the geoglyphs on a 3-D depiction of the area. Turns out that on the top of our hill there is a pretty intricate design of a whale and the landing strip we saw is part of a series of massive triangles that extend all along the cerro.

Also on the side of the hill, was a large modern geoglyph that read “85 APRA” which was election propaganda in 1985 for the current president’s disastrous first term when the economy went to total shit. Theory #3 - maybe the Nazca’s were just running for office instead of signaling their gods. Since they all disappeared, it looks like they had bigger problems than quadruple digit hyperinflation.

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